At the Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday, November 17, residents were suprised to hear about the departure of Town Administrator Annemarie Fagan. Eager to spend more time with her family, Fagan thanked many officials for the opportunities afforded her in Milton, including John Cronin, Tom Hurley, and Katie Conlon and agreed to help out the new strong Town Administrator. (Watch the meeting on Milton Access TV. Announcements occur at approximately 60:00).
When residents heard similar news of the retirement of Milton Police Chief Richard Wells, which was also announced during the BOS meeting, they were taken aback. Milton residents took to the Facebook group, Milton Neighbors, in search of confirmation and reasoning.
A statement from the Board of Selectmen indicated the following:
In 2014 Chief Wells voluntarily entered into an agreement with the Town of Milton known as the “Senior Managers Program” This program is available to all superior police officers including the chief and deputy chief of police in the Town. Under this program any employee that meets the qualifications is allowed to turn back their accumulated sick leave and in return receive a significant increase in salary phased in over the three year life of the program. At the end of these three years employees that have chosen to enter the senior management program have typically retired. While retirement is not mandatory under this program the agreement does have a requirement that if the employee continues his employment beyond the three year term of the program their salary will be reduced by 10% for the five year period following the end of their senior managers program agreement.
Chief Wells was well aware of this requirement of the senior managers program when he signed the agreement to enter the program. The Board of Selectmen have unanimously concurred that to maintain the integrity of the senior managers program, which has been collectively bargained with the Milton Superior Officers union, we will not entertain a contract with Chief Wells or any other continuance of employment with the Town of Milton without the mandatory 10% reduction in wages stipulated in the agreement.
Chief Wells has indicated to the Board that he is currently unwilling to accept employment at a reduced salary. Accordingly the Board of Selectmen feel that consideration of a plan of succession for the police chief is prudent and in the best interest of the Town of Milton at this time.
In a statement to the Milton Scene, Wells said that he had planned on working as Chief for two more years, but was never offered the chance to negotiate the 10% salary reduction, since no contract had been offered. Wells indicated that he thought he and the Town were in contract negotations. He expressed surprise by what happened at the meeting last night and said he was “humbled by the outpouring of support from the community today.” He also indicated that he will “need to fight this.”
The Board of Selectmen stated that they are “grateful to the dedication and selflessness to law enforcement that Chief Wells has demonstrated throughout his career. The Chief has been a remarkable ambassador as the head law enforcement officer in the Town of Milton and has played an important role in the maintenance of the quality of life in the Town of Milton.”
Wells will release a formal statement regarding further action this week.