Mgr’s. Contract Valid to 2013

Front Page / Feb. 17, 2011 12:19pm EST

By M. D. Drysdale

Town Manager Gary Champy has a valid contract with the town extending until March 3, 2013, Atty. Paul Gillies wrote in a Feb. 8 memorandum to the Randolph Selectboard.

The board had requested a clarification of which of two contracts was legally in force.

When he was hired in 2008, Champy received a contract extending until April 12 of this year (2011). Last February 16, however, in its last meeting before Town Meeting, the selectboard voted to re-write the contract and extend it two more years.

The contract extension offered Champy protection in case the selectboard changed character as a result of Town Meeting balloting—as it did with the election of Larry Richburg, who defeated Del Thompson by a vote of 575-272.

The eleventh-hour contract extension became the main topic of discussion at Town Meeting last year. After an hour of discussion, a voice vote was taken, requesting that the new selectboard reconsider the contract extension.

A petition was also presented by Randolph Atty. Heather Jarvis, containing 200 names, which also demanded a reconsideration of the contract extension for Champy.

In its first meeting on March 3, 2010 the new selectboard, which now included Richburg as chair, took up the issue of the manager’s contract.

A majority said they wanted to reconsider the Feb. 16 contract extension, but the board never took a vote specifically to do so.

Instead, a motion was made to approve the extended contract, and that motion was voted down, 4-1. Three of the members at that time—Richburg, Dennis Brown, and Carol Flint—hoped that this vote would amount to a rejection of the Feb. 16 contract extension.

However, in his Feb. 8 opinion, Atty. Gillies (a former assistant secretary of state) said that vote had no consequence.

“A failed motion is not evidence of an act of the board and is irrelevant to this discussion,” he wrote.

What is important, Gillies said, is that the manager and selectboard were bound by the Feb. 16 contract, which included the two-year extension.

“I cannot find any fault either personally or procedurally that would lead a court to conclude that the 2008 conract was still in force, or that the 2010 contract was invalid,” he concluded.

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