DEERING — The town administrator has been fired by the board of selectmen and may not be replaced, according to a press release issued by the board last week.
“Contrary to the rumors that have been noted recently in the public sphere, Town Administrator Craig Ohlson has not submitted his resignation to the Town,” said the press statement posted on the town’s website on July 10. “While that possibility was considered, after consulting with Town counsel and weighing multiple factors, the Board has voted unanimously to terminate Mr. Ohlson’s employment, effective today, in accordance with the terms provided in his employment contract.”
The press release didn’t say what motivated the firing of Ohlson, and neither the town administrator nor the members of the board of selectmen returned calls seeking comment.However, the two-page press release alluded to the fact that the board had been at odds with Ohlson since 2012.“The Board did not make this decision quickly or reactively,” said the statement. “Residents who follow the Board closely, or those who volunteer time on committees, boards, or other town-related projects, are likely familiar with the ongoing concerns first addressed in 2012 that led to this decision.”Those concerns were not elaborated upon by the board.Ohlson, who has served the town since 2007, has been given a severance package totalling $53,000 and will keep his insurance coverage for 10 months, according to the town, an arrangement the board said is in keeping with Ohlson’s employment contract.
The board does not intend to fill the position of town administrator for the rest of the year, citing budget restraints, and it’s possible that the position may be eliminated altogether.
“In the past decade, Deering experienced increased residential development that required a notable increase in personnel hours. This led to the creation of the town administrator position around 2007,” the statement read. “Since then, the level of development has declined significantly.”
The board will be reviewing the current staffing levels at town hall to ensure that the number of employees doesn’t exceed the needs of the community, and from there they will decide whether to seek a new administrator or simply work with the existing staff on day-to-day operations.
The board will also be returning to a schedule of regular weekly meetings on Wednesdays at 6 p.m.