Months after the Ogunquit Select Board declined to renew her contract, Town Manager Patricia Finnigan announced Saturday she will retire.

During a special meeting Saturday, the Select Board approved an employment agreement with Finnigan that had been negotiated by attorneys following the board’s November vote to reprimand her.  The reprimand cited deficiencies in her job performance, but also said those issues did not negate the good she has done in her position.

Finnigan intends to retire on June 30 unless the board decides to hire an interim town manager. She said she is committed to assisting with a smooth transition to her successor.

“Public service, especially in local government, has been my vocation, it’s been my profession and it has been my joy for more than half my life,” Finnigan said during the brief special meeting. “Serving as Ogunquit’s town manager, working with elected officials, the volunteer committee members and the town employees on behalf of the people of Ogunquit has been a great privilege that I will cherish.”

Board members thanked Finnigan for her service and members Robert Winn and Lindsey Perry were visibly emotional as they spoke before voting for the agreement.

“I’m very saddened about the situation but consider myself very fortunate to have been able to work with such a wonderful professional who I think will be truly missed,” Winn said, adding her departure is “truly a loss for the town.”

Perry, the only woman on the Select Board, said Finnigan is an “inspiration to women everywhere” and praised her for putting the town’s interests ahead of special interests.

“Pat, your competence and your dedication and your fair-minded, independent thinking served us all very well here,” she said.

Finnigan’s contract expired on Feb. 13. Her original contract was set to expire in August, but the board extended it for six months.

The board has not disclosed details of the employment agreement approved Saturday other than a provision that allows the town to end Finnigan’s employment before June 30. The Portland Press Herald has requested a copy of the agreement through the Maine Freedom of Access Act.

Heath Ouellette, chair of the Select Board, said the board will release a statement later this week. The board will soon meet to discuss whether to hire an interim town manager and the process for establishing a search committee to fill the job.

Finnigan was hired in 2017 after the previous town manager, Thomas Fortier, resigned. He had been charged with theft and official oppression after allegedly pocketing parking fees collected from visitors. Finnigan had more than 25 years of municipal experience and had previously been town manager in Camden, assistant city manager in Portland and city manager in Auburn.

During her time in Ogunquit, Finnigan had to defend her firing of Fire Chief Mark O’Brien, who filed an administrative appeal in court. A judge ruled Finnigan did not violate O’Brien’s due process and the firing was backed by evidence, but the termination set off months of contentious debate in the small town that included attempts to remove Select Board members from office.

Last year, Select Board member Rick Dolliver filed a lawsuit against the town alleging Finnigan failed to provide records he had requested under the Freedom of Access Act.

In a letter of reprimand dated Nov. 10, board members warned Finnigan she could face further disciplinary action if she didn’t address concerns about failure to follow through on public records requests, communicating critical information to the board and providing accurate information about town contracts, among other issues

In the letter, the board said Finnigan was able to provide sufficient information to respond to some concerns, but that deficiencies remained. The board did not elaborate on the concerns raised during executive sessions held to discuss confidential personnel information.

The board cited five specific issues in its letter of reprimand: not always following through on public records requests as required by the state Freedom of Access Act; failing to ensure that confidential information is not provided when responding to a FOAA request; failing to provide information requested by Select Board members in a timely manner; not always, or not always in a timely manner, communicating critical information to the Select Board, including about lawsuits against the town or when overspending may occur on major projects approved by the board; and not always providing the Select Board with accurate information pertaining to town contracts.

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