Politics

Brattleboro town manager, resigning after 5 months, to receive almost a year’s pay

Brattleboro Town Manager Octavian “Yoshi” Manale will leave June 3 with a nearly $70,000 severance package, according to an agreement he signed with local leaders. Photo by Kevin O’Connor/VTDigger

BRATTLEBORO — Outgoing Town Manager Octavian “Yoshi” Manale will have worked only five months by the time his surprise resignation takes effect June 3, but he’ll be paid nearly all his $120,000 annual salary, according to a severance agreement he signed with local leaders.

“Recognizing that the employment relationship was not working to each party’s expectations, Manale has tendered his letter of resignation and Brattleboro has accepted the letter of resignation,” the seven-page document obtained by VTDigger states.

Manale, who took the job this January, abruptly submitted his resignation Friday after weeks of public criticism over his recommendation that the municipality pull out of a contract with its nearly 60-year EMS provider, Rescue Inc., with little notice or public debate.

“In a small town like Brattleboro, I have quickly discovered that the prominence of this position creates drawbacks for me to fulfill the duties of the job most efficiently,” Manale wrote in a resignation letter sent just before the start of the weekend. “I am not the right fit for this position.”

Manale will leave with a lump-sum $60,000 severance payment representing six months of wages, as well as 12 weeks of continuation of health coverage benefits, $3,565 in accrued time off, up to $6,000 in moving expenses and a letter of recommendation, the agreement states.

Manale also will “not knowingly make any statements to any third parties which might reasonably be construed to disparage Brattleboro or harm its reputation,” the document says. In turn, municipal staffers and the selectboard won’t publicly denigrate the outgoing town manager.

Manale recommended the town drop Rescue because he considered its annual assessment of $285,600 for this coming fiscal year to be too high.

The municipality is approaching that figure when it adds up Manale’s $70,000 total severance package; a $75,000 transition contract with Golden Cross Ambulance of Claremont, New Hampshire; a $38,721 feasibility study of a proposed fire department takeover of EMS; and whatever fee Rescue is expected to charge for covering mutual aid calls.

Manale signed the severance agreement last Thursday, two days after meeting with the selectboard in executive session and a day before publicly announcing his resignation.

Before his current job, Manale had worked the past two decades in several New Jersey state and local government posts, most recently as deputy mayor and chief of staff for the city of Trenton.

“Until I took this position in Brattleboro, the smallest community I worked in was almost five times that of this town,” he said in his letter. “The larger populations afforded me anonymity that I did not appreciate until now.”

The selectboard has appointed Assistant Town Manager Patrick Moreland to serve as interim municipal leader and is expected to conduct a search and fill the manager’s job in the coming months.

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Kevin O'Connor

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