Republican council members in Rocky Hill are in an uproar following a vote for a new town manager this week.
Late Monday after emerging from executive session, council voted 5-4 along party lines to give Interim Town Manager John Mehr the job on a permanent basis. Republicans, in the minority, cried foul.
Republican Councilor Nadine Bell cites the town charter that said, “The Town Manager shall be appointed and may be removed or suspended by the Council by at least six affirmative votes of the membership of the Council.”
However, Democratic Town Councilor Bill O’Sullivan told NBC Connecticut, "There is some ambiguity in the Charter about whether the 6-vote supermajority requirement for suspending or terminating a Town Manager also applies to hiring one."
O'Sullivan added, "We took our vote to offer Mr. Mehr the position, and specifically made it subject to not only reaching a mutually satisfactory contract with him, but also obtaining an opinion from the Town Attorney that a simple majority will suffice."
Bell countered she wanted a legal opinion before the vote was taken and said,"An alternate opinion was not tolerated."
Bell also said the vote was not fair to the other candidates applying for town manager.
NBC Connecticut asked council Democrats why they didn’t hold off on a vote until they got a legal opinion. Mayor Claudia Baio said prior to the vote there was no way of knowing it would be 5-4, so there was no reason to seek a legal opinion until after the vote was taken. Both council Democrats and Republicans say they are now just waiting for the town attorney’s opinion on whether the vote was proper.