WATERVILLE — City leaders remained mum Tuesday on why City Manager Steve Daly gave only a day’s notice before resigning last week, and said that when the City Council meets to consider accepting his resignation, there may be no discussion about the reason.

Former Waterville City Manager Steve Daly. Photo courtesy of Steve Daly

“It’s Steve’s story to tell,” Mayor Jay Coelho said. “It is what it is.”

Daly did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment.

City Council Chairwoman Rebecca Green, D-Ward 4, was traveling Tuesday but said in a telephone message she did not have further information on Daly’s departure.

“It was very sudden and we wish him well,” she said. “We will be discussing appointing Bill Post as the interim city manager … when we meet.”

Post, the assistant city manager, is the obvious and likely person to serve as interim city manager, according to Coelho, who said the council will make that decision, likely on Jan. 3. The process will then be launched to search for and hire a permanent city manager, he said, adding he hopes a new manager is in place in June.

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“You don’t want to bring anyone in right this minute,” he said. “We have to get through the budget season.”

Councilors are scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday on Zoom, during which they are expected to consider the terms of Daly’s contract, including whether to pay him four months of salary and a health insurance reimbursement in a lump sum.

At 75, Daly was nearly two years into a three-year contract when he resigned, effective Friday, saying in his resignation letter his decision was led by urgent personal circumstances.

Daly came to Waterville two years ago from North Reading, Massachusetts. He earned a salary of $125,000 in the first year of his contract in Waterville and $130,000 in the second year.

City Councilor Claude Francke, D-Ward 6, said Tuesday he could not comment beyond what he had told the Morning Sentinel last week, which was that a payment covering four months of work is “more or less standard.” He also said he and other councilors wished Daly well, and Francke applauded Daly for his oversight of recent projects, including the newly opened Paul J. Schupf Art Center at 93 Main St. in downtown Waterville.

Asked Tuesday if he was surprised by Daly’s abrupt departure, Francke chose his words carefully.

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“I didn’t anticipate things rolling down the pike quite as rapidly as they did,” he said.

Both Francke and Coelho said most city managers serve two to four or five years in the job, and the fact that Michael Roy served more than 16 years as city manager before he retired is unusual. Daly succeeded Roy.

City Councilor Thomas Klepach, D-Ward 3, also declined to say why Daly had resigned, referring those questions to Daly.

“We thank him for helping guide the city through an important phase in its development and transition,” Klepach said Tuesday. “We appreciate his time. We wish him well.”

Before coming to Waterville in 2021, Daly served as town manager in Bedford, New Hampshire, and Salem, New Hampshire. He was also town administrator in Bedford, Massachusetts, from 1980 to 1984, and North Reading, Massachusetts, from 1989 to 1995. Prior to that, he worked as a regional and statewide Homeland Security program administrator, multistate government collective procurement entrepreneur and municipal management contractor.

A graduate of the University of Maine, Daly earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1971 and a master’s degree in education in 1973. He also took a program for senior executives in state and local government at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Coelho said Tuesday he believes the City Council will waive the stipulation in Daly’s contract that he give a 90-day notice when resigning.

Coelho also said he believes a rule in the city charter requiring city managers to live in Waterville makes it difficult to find candidates. To make an amendment to the charter in that regard, 30% of voters who voted in the last gubernatorial election must decide. Such a change could not be made in Waterville until at least November 2023, he said.

Coelho said a good team is in place at City Hall and residents need not worry that Waterville is now without a city manager.

“We’ve got everything spread out so everybody knows what they’re doing,” he said. “Morale is up. People are happy. People are doing their jobs.”

Councilors will take their time to find an appropriate manager, according to Coelho.

“They’re going to make the right choice,” he said. “They’re going to pick someone who is going to share the ideals and vision that we have for the city.”

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