Two Westbrook department heads who were on leave for months will not return to City Hall.

Westbrook officials have declined to explain why Director of Human Resources Jennifer Ogden and Director of Community Services Maria Huntress were on paid administrative leave for three to four months this past winter. City Administrator Jerre Bryant confirmed Thursday that Huntress has resigned from her position, and Ogden will be laid off as her department is being restructured.

The city says the details are confidential personnel matters and that there are no records of disciplinary action, documents that would be public under state law.

City Council President Brendan Rielly said he never received any information the two women were on leave, and he was not aware Ogden was not returning to her job.

“I and a number of other people had raised questions,” Rielly said. “Certainly we wanted to know what was going on with the community center and our other departments, particularly because we were hearing from taxpayers wanting to know how tax money is being spent and who is administering programs. But we were specifically excluded from all personnel matters.”

Huntress was hired as the director of community services in 2010. The department oversees the Westbrook Community Center and its programs. Her weekly salary was about $1,529, which translated to roughly $79,500 annually.

Huntress was on paid administrative leave from Nov. 6 to March 26. However, she did not return to her work at that time, and acting Director Greg Post led the department through the budget development process. On Thursday, he said her last day was April 14.

“She resigned in good standing,” Bryant said.

In May, Bryant had said that Huntress was still employed by the city but declined to comment on her status. Bryant did not respond to a message asking him to explain that discrepancy.

In a phone interview Thursday, Huntress declined to comment on the reason for her leave or her next steps.

“I just want to say that it was a privilege to work for the city for nine years,” Huntress said. “We did tremendous work and we listened to the community.”

Huntress said she still lives in Westbrook.

“I love the community of Westbrook, I love the community center,” she said. “Even though I am starting a new chapter in my life, I live in Westbrook and will definitely stay involved.”

Ogden was hired as the human resources director in 2016. Her weekly salary is about $1,737, which translates to more than $90,300 annually.

She was on paid administrative leave from Dec. 4 to March 26, and she said last month in a written message that she is on maternity leave until the end of June. Bryant said Thursday that her last day is June 30 and described her departure as a “layoff.”

As part of the fiscal year 2019 budget, the Westbrook City Council restructured the human resources department. For several years, the city and school department have shared a human resources department. Next year, however, the Westbrook School Committee decided to do that work in house. The city decided to cut its own staff in response, and the director’s job is becoming a hybrid position – half human resources director, half assistant city administrator. That job is already being advertised, Bryant said.

Ogden declined to comment for this story.

Megan Doyle can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: megan_e_doyle

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