BIDDEFORD — The City Council in Biddeford has approved a one-year extension to City Manager James Bennett’s contract.

The extension, to July 31, 2024, comes with a pay increase. The contract spells out that Bennett will be paid, retroactively to Aug. 1, $137,500 through July 31, 2022. On Aug. 1, 2022, his salary will increase to $142,500, and on Aug. 1, 2023, to $147,500.

The city’s contribution to Bennett’s retirement will increase from 12 percent of his base salary to 15 percent of his base pay, retroactive to Aug. 1, this year, according to the contract.

The contract was updated to reflect a 2016 voter-approved charter change that allows the city manager and the superintendent of schools to live outside the city limits if they so desire, said Mayor Alan Casavant. Bennett lives in Biddeford.

Bennett, a longtime municipal administrator, was hired as Biddeford’s city manager in 2015, after former City Manager John Bubier announced he was stepping down. Immediately prior to his arrival in Biddeford, Bennett had been city manager in Presque Isle. He has been a municipal manager in several communities throughout Maine, including a seven-year stint in Old Orchard Beach that began in 1990, and in Westbrook and Lewiston, among others.

A couple of councilors were opposed to the contract renewal, and expressed concern about terms of the contract when it was introduced and voted upon at the Oct. 19 City Council meeting.

“We don’t typically talk about personnel issues, and this is really is not about the city manager,” said Councilor Michael Ready just before the vote. “… I don’t think there is any councilor here who would not support hiring the city manager again; my vote tonight is about the contract. I don’t support several of the key terms about the contract. I want to make it clear why I am not supporting it — it has nothing to do with the city manager’s continuing employment. If it came up tonight, I would vote to hire the city manager, that’s not the issue.”

Council President John McCurry said he agreed.

On Thursday, Oct. 21, Ready said two items had been of particular concern to him.

“The extension did not have to be done until August of next year,” said Ready in an email. “It was not necessary to do that now. This contract is until 2024.”

As well, Ready said, the contract allows Bennett to move from the city if he so desires.

“This may be old school thinking but I still believe that the City Manager should live in the city,” said Ready.

The vote was 5-2, with Councilors William Emhiser, Ashanti Williams, Amy Clearwater, Doris Ortiz, and Marc Lessard in favor. Councilors Ready and McCurry were opposed. Councilors Stephen St. Cyr and Norman Belanger were absent.

Bennett was recently named president of the Maine Municipal Association Executive Committee. His term begins in January.

Comments are not available on this story.