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Claremont City Manager Ryan McNutt Fired; McNutt Vows to Appeal

  • Claremont City Manager Ryan McNutt in Claremont, N.H., on February 22, 2017. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Correspondent
Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Claremont — Claremont City Manager Ryan McNutt was dismissed by the City Council in a 7-2 vote on Wednesday night, Mayor Charlene Lovett said following another nonpublic meeting on personnel that lasted about two hours.

McNutt, who was hired in February 2017, will receive six months’ salary, and although the termination does not begin for 30 days, Lovett said, McNutt was placed on administrative leave and will not serve out his remaining time working in City Hall.

Reached by phone last night, McNutt said he planned to appeal the decision to the council and have that appeal heard in a public forum. He has 10 days to file an appeal.

“I am shocked and disappointed by the council’s actions and I will appeal,” said McNutt, who was at City Hall on Wednesday night but said he was not part of the nonpublic session and was called into council chambers only to be informed of the vote. “Some of the things they said were not factual.”

“They have had dozens of (nonpublic) meetings that I have not been at and not been able to defend myself,” McNutt said. “They have never given any type of concerns, saying, ‘You did this or didn’t do that.’ ”

The council passed two resolutions on Wednesday night. The first stated in part that, under McNutt’s contract, he can be terminated “with or without cause” and went on to say that, after a review of his performance, “the City Council is not satisfied with Mr. McNutt’s job performance and conduct as City Manager.”

The resolution listed five specific areas where the council said McNutt had failed to perform to expectations. “Failure to keep the City Council informed as to matters affecting the City; to provide the City Council with advance notice of issues that are or that are likely to be of concern to the public; to communicate with the public and with members of the City Council in a respectful and courteous manner; to demonstrate improvement in these areas, despite having been given the guidance, time and opportunity to do so; and to demonstrate a commitment to improvement in these areas.”

“These deficiencies have caused the City Council to lose confidence in the City Manager’s ability to work collaboratively with the City Council in furtherance of the best interests of the City,” the resolution said. “While no legal cause is necessary to terminate Mr. McNutt’s employment, the City Council has determined that these performance and conduct issues are detrimental to the effective operation of City government and that they constitute good and sufficient reasons for termination.”

Councilors Nick Koloski and Claire Lessard voted against the resolution.

In the second resolution, the council voted to have Police Chief Mark Chase serve as acting city manager for today before former Keene City Manager John MacLean fills in on an interim basis while a search is undertaken to find a permanent replacement.

Koloski, Lessard and Scott Pope voted against the second resolution.

McNutt, who is from Fitchburg, Mass., was the town administrator in Lancaster, Mass., before being hired in Claremont at an annual salary of $110,000. He was chosen from an original pool of about 40 candidates to replace Guy Santagate, who retired after serving as city manager for 15 years.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.