SOUTH PARIS — Oxford County Administrator Scott Cole, placed on paid administrative leave a week ago, resigned Monday after reaching an agreement with county commissioners.

There was no hint of what prompted the leave or Cole to resign from the position.

Commissioner David Duguay said Monday evening that Cole had been paid an annual salary of $74,970 and was expected to work 45 hours a week.

As part of the deal, Cole and commissioners agreed they would say nothing disparaging about one another. They declined to comment Monday, except for written statements included in the pact unanimously approved by Commissioners Duguay, Steven Merrill and Tim Turner after a brief executive session.

When Cole walked into the meeting room after the closed-door session, he spotted the acting county administrator, state Rep. Tom Winsor of Norway, and told him, “You have my sympathies.”

The five-page agreement calls for Cole to receive $37,485 in severance pay – the equivalent of six-months’ pay – and nearly $10,000 for mileage reimbursement and unused vacation time. He will also have health, dental and life insurance coverage through July.

In a written letter of resignation, Cole said it “has been a privilege to hold the job, and to represent the commissioners’ positions, initiatives and authority in many venues.”

He called it a rewarding experience.

“Eight years on the job have taught me that county government organization” as laid out in Maine law “is poorly designed and better suited for another century,” Cole wrote.

He said it results in “non-accountability and blurring of responsibility among elected officials” that shortchange some.

“But, alas, it is the only horse available so we must ride it,” Cole said.

The mood in the room after commissioners approved the deal was generally friendly, if tinged with tension. Cole shook the hand of each commissioner.

In a written statement, the commissioners congratulated Cole “for a job well done since his arrival in late 2009.”

It also said, “Both the commissioners and Cole agree that change is good as Oxford County continues to move forward into the future.”

Winsor said Cole still had some personal items at the office. Cole said he did not have the opportunity last week to take them home, but would collect them soon.

Merrill, the commission chairman, told Cole he did not have to do anything for a time except relax.

The deal struck between Cole and the county includes a release of any claims any of them might have against one another, effectively closing the door on any lawsuits.

The pact requires that the parties agree on a mutually acceptable letter of reference, and mandates the county chairman serve as an employment reference who will not say anything beyond what the letter lays out, unless Cole violates the non-disparagement section.

If either side violates that provision, the agreement says, the other is allowed to provide “truthful information” to correct any misstatements.

The media statement given by the two parties is included in the deal between Cole and the county.

Cole’s departure as Oxford County administrator is similar to his exit about nine years ago from the town manager’s position in Bethel, also in Oxford County.

In February 2009, the Bethel Board of Selectmen announced it would not renew Cole’s contract as town manager when it expired June 30, 2009.

Selectmen provided no explanation for Cole’s ouster, only issuing a written statement: “We believe that Mr. Cole has done a good job in Bethel the past 10 years. His departure is taken with regret. Nevertheless, after weighing the many and varied pros and cons present in such a decision, we believe that non-renewal best serves the town’s interest.”

Cole had served more than 10 years as Bethel’s town manager, having been hired June 1, 1999.

Cole’s agreement with Bethel did not require that the board explain its decision not to renew his contract. Thus, Selectmen Stanley Howe, Dennis Doyon, Donald Bennett, Jack Cross and Robert Everett opted against disclosing what prompted them to end Cole’s employment with the town.

Steve Collins can be contacted at:

[email protected]