By Polly Lynn Mikula
KILLINGTON—At 8:20 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28, the Killington Select Board came out of executive session to announce the termination of Deborah Schwartz from the position of Town Manager “without cause.” The board unanimously approved the motion.
There was little discussion.
Board Chair Steve Finneron explained that “Under the contract there’s a 30 day notice, which expires on April 29, during this time you’ll be paid. Under section 5, you will also receive 180 days pay… Deborah you have the choice, and we’re not asking for an answer now, of whether you want to work the 30 days. You do not have to and you will still receive the 30 days pay for it.”
Schwartz simply asked for clarification about when the 180 day time period would begin. Finneron said April 29, after the 30 day period, all of which will be paid.
Finneron asked for an answer on whether or not Schwartz intended to work by the weekend.
The meeting adjourned at 8:24 p.m.
The Town of Killington named Deborah Schwartz town manager on April 18, 2016.
As of Tuesday, April 3, Schwartz had not showed up to work. Finneron reported that the Select Board had received mail from her attorney Tuesday morning and the town’s attorney (Alison Bell) was reading over it currently. He was hopeful that they’d have something final to present at the regularly scheduled Select Board meeting that evening. He said they are still moving forward with setting up a town manager search committee and are seeking volunteers.
The select board proceeded with “termination without cause” based on legal advice from Bell who works for Langrock Sperry & Wool, the law firm that originated the contract with Schwartz.
“The town lawyer advised us to go this direction as it would prevent us from a potentially lengthy and costly court challenge,” Finneron explained. “Whereas if we listed specific causes, each would be open to challenge… and we might not win.”
Because of the decision to terminate without cause, the select board could not further elaborate on any reason that lead them to their decision to part ways with Schwartz.
When asked for comment, Schwartz responded via email: “I have been advised not to make any public statements at this time.”
However, plenty of townspeople speculated about the decision on social media after the Mountain Times posted the news of her eminent departure Wednesday night.
Vito Rasenas, a resident who’s active in local politics and reposted the story to a Facebook and his own blog site As the Ski Turns, wrote: “The most obvious and public was the Town Report which was riddled with mistakes and inaccuracies. If a Town Manager does nothing else they need to present a spit shined Town Report. There were also other issues not officially put forth regarding comp time, budget preparation and internal Town Office management.”
Charlie Demarest concurred commenting: “Total incompetence would be a very accurate summary of all the reasons why.”