SOUTHWEST HARBOR — After this week, Dana Reed will be able to say he has managed three of the four towns on Mount Desert Island, even if one management gig is only temporary.
Members of the Board of Selectmen appointed Reed as the interim town manager on Monday in an emergency meeting after voting 3–2 last week to remove Justin VanDongen from that position. During the Jan. 26 meeting, Selectman Chad Terry cited a lack of confidence in VanDongen’s ability to perform the job as the reason for his removal.
Authority with hiring and firing a town manager rests with the Board of Selectmen. There are two ways to do so, VanDongen explained last August when an agenda item for a selectmen meeting was listed as an executive session to discuss removal of the town manager. One is as a motion to do so for convenience, which takes a vote of three members in favor. The second, which is to remove a manager for cause or a particularly egregious act, is a longer process that requires proof of such an act.
Upon advice from the town’s attorney, Board of Selectmen Chairman Kristin Hutchins said VanDongen’s removal was for convenience.
“We’ve appointed Dana as an interim town manager,” Hutchins said after the meeting Monday morning, adding that Reed will be paid the same salary as VanDongen.
After taking three years off from running a municipality, Reed has agreed to come out of retirement and step in until Southwest Harbor can hire a new town manager.
In December 2017, Reed retired after managing Tremont for three years. He had begun as an interim there in June 2014 to replace Carl Young and signed a two-year contract in April 2015 after being officially hired. Reed signed another two-year contract in 2017 but decided to end it early and retire after 30 years managing municipalities. He began as a town manager in Bar Harbor in 1986 and was there until 2014.
“Obviously one of this board’s tasks is to find a town manager,” said Hutchins, adding that VanDongen offered for Town Clerk Marilyn Lowell to rescind her resignation. “She’s going to stay with us the rest of the week. Whether she stays with us will be contingent upon her conversation with Dana.”