CLAREMONT — Ryan McNutt, who was dismissed by the city council Wednesday night as city manager, plans to request a public hearing before the council to air the reasons for his termination, he said Thursday.
He said he does not expect to keep his job.
“I would hope the councilors see (at that hearing) that Claremont is not the three or four negative people who are influencing them,” he said.
The council voted 7-2 Wednesday night to terminate McNutt after a two-hour non-public meeting. He will be paid six months of severance. McNutt had an annual salary of $110,000.
McNutt was in his office Thursday preparing a list of priorities for incoming interim city manager John MacLean, who served in that post in Keene.
Police Chief Mark Chase served as temporary city manager for the day Thursday.
McNutt said he does not know why he was fired after two years on the job, but said conflicts with the council — especially with Mayor Charlene Lovett — hindered his ability to do his job at times.
“She is one of the most difficult people I’ve worked with,” McNutt said. “She is not someone who understood her role.”
McNutt said Lovett tried to attain more power as mayor. Claremont’s charter gives day-to-day responsibility to the city manager, he said.
“There was a desire for more control,” McNutt said.
If Lovett became displeased with McNutt for any reason, she would call for a nonpublic personnel meeting of the council to discuss his shortcomings, he said.
“Every time anything upset her in any way, no matter how minor, it was another nonpublic for personnel,” McNutt said.
Lovett disagreed with McNutt’s assessment of her job performance Thursday.
“That’s just a difference of opinion,” Lovett said.
She said that rather than micromanaging city staff, she and other council members were following their roles as outlined in the charter.
“I feel that we were doing our job,” Lovett said. “We understand the role of the council differently from that of the city manager.”
McNutt alleges micromanaging by the council has driven a number of talented staffers from city positions.
The council was given detailed reports regularly by McNutt and city department heads, yet councilors and the mayor would ask for information already in those reports, McNutt said.
“It seems, in many cases, that they didn’t read these reports,” McNutt said.
When councilors voted to hire a communications consultant to help McNutt better work with the council, McNutt said the council failed to give any guidance or measurable goals for the consultant to work with.
“He was at a loss,” McNutt said.
McNutt is confident the remaining city staff will continue to do good work on behalf of the city, calling them great people.