Farmington selectmen are considering asking Town Manager Richard Davis to sign a contract for the first time.

While no decision was made last week when the topic was discussed at a board meeting, selectmen weighed whether the contract would protect town interests or could cause the selectmen’s relationship with the town manager to become adversarial.

Town Manager Richard Davis has not had a contract for the first 13 years of his tenure with the town. His job is governed by state statute and his job description. Davis has said he plans to retire in six years.

Chairman Ryan Morgan said he has read articles reporting incidents of turnover of town managers in Maine towns and said the town should have a contract for stability reasons.

“In the future, we need to have a contract. We need to protect the town’s interests,” Morgan said at a selectmen’s meeting.

Selectman Stephan Bunker said during his time in Farmington, he has seen examples of town managers with and without contracts and said the documents did not always to protect the town from turnover in situations such as a town manager leaving suddenly.

“I can remember challenging times with separation even with a contract,” he said. “It’s more built on relationships and communication.”

Bunker said as an alternative, he would be interested in improving the annual process of reviewing Davis, which selectmen also started last week. The reviews from each selectman give feedback to Davis and are part of his personnel file.

At this point in Davis’s career, Bunker said, if the board and the town each hired lawyers to negotiate a contract, it could end up “creating a defensive or adversarial relationship.”

Selectman Josh Bell, who first brought up idea, said he was surprised the town does not have a contract with Davis and he would like to see one.

“Not just for you, but going into the future,” Bell told Davis.

Davis said while he has negotiated additional retirement contributions, he is happy now with his relationship with town.

“I think after 13 years in the position, I’m comfortable with the current arrangement,” he said.

Davis said he would help create a contract near the end of his career to be used in hiring the next town manager. He said if he came up with a contract for future managers, he could draft one to protect town interests; but he said if it was for while he was still in his position, he would negotiate one to protect his own interests.

“A contract would be the same as what is used for principals and superintendents,” Selectman Michael Flagg said at the recent meeting. “They have a contract, so they come in; but you always have that feeling they are looking to either go from principal to superintendent or go to a bigger school or go to a bigger town.”

“That’s from your perspective,” Davis responded. “From their perspective, they might feel possibly like they are walking on eggshells in the political environment.”

If the town were to create a contract, the town legal fund would be used to hire both an attorney for the town and to hire one for Davis. Davis said he would have to gather estimates, but he estimated it could cost several thousand dollars.

Resident Betty Jesperson, who was in attendance at the meeting, told town officials they should gather more exact figures on what negotiating a contract would cost the town in legal expenses before they meet to consider the matter again.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]

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