Hampton Renews Town Manager's Contract
By Matt Chandler, Alantic News Staff Writer
Atlantic News, Friday, November 2, 2000
[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]
[Atlantic News Photo by Nancy Rineman]
HAMPTON -- At its weekly meeting Monday night, the Hampton board of selectmen finalized a new three year contract for Town Manager James Barrington.
The contract passed by a vote of 4-1 with board member Bonnie Searle casting the lone dissenting vote.
Chairman Brian Warburton summed it up by saying, "We have a manager who we want, and we have him for a long time." He went on to applaud Barrington for his involvement in the local community in addition to admirably fulfilling his duties as town manager over the past four years.
"In my nearly six years at this table, this is one of my proudest moments," Warburton pronounced as he passed the contract around to be signed by the board. The contract, which goes into effect on November 12, 2000, calls for a base salary of $80,592.75 in the first year.
Additionally, the retirement contribution made by the city increased from five percent to seven percent under the new agreement.
That was one of several points that raised the ire of Searle, who bluntly stated, "I take exception to this entire process." Searle, who stood alone in her opposition to the contract, cited the two percent retirement increase, along with parts of the severance package as reasons she was voting against the pact.
Despite Warburton's assessment of Barrington as "a consensus-builder, and a wonderful leader", Searle expressed concerns that the board was acting in a shortsighted manner by readily agreeing to the contract.
"I felt we should have conducted a performance review first," Searle said. When fellow board members informed her that Barrington had in fact had an appraisal in March 2000, the war of words heated up, and the friction so often evident between Searle and her fellow board members came to a head.
Searle then launched into complaints ranging from the cost of healthcare insurance covered in the contract, to a clause that allows for a car expense to remain upon termination. After some back-and-forth discussion, with Searle often talking over the other members, Chairman Warburton brought the meeting back to order, and congratulated the Town Manager on the new deal.
For his part, Barrington said he was excited about the new contract, expressing his enjoyment of Hampton, while joking that, "we still haven't learned how to talk yet," referring to his heavy southern drawl. The contract, which is public record and can be viewed by interested residents, runs from November 12, 2000 through November 11, 2003. In addition to the base salary, there is a five percent yearly raise factored in. As board member Skip Sullivan put it, "He's not the highest paid manager in the state, and not the lowest. He's somewhere in the middle."