WOLFEBORO — Citing concerns about her job performance and the desire to review it further, the Board of Selectmen has placed Town Manager Becky Merrow on paid leave.
On Jan. 4, Board of Selectmen Chairman Linda T. Murray, in response to a request under the state’s Right-to-Know law, said Merrow had been placed on leave effective Dec. 27.
Before the selectmen’s Jan. 2 meeting, Murray read a statement that said Merrow will “remain on administrative leave pending a further review of her job performance” and that Fire Chief James Pineo would serve as Acting Town Manager while she was away.
“The decision to place Ms. Merrow on administrative leave was not made lightly,” Murray said, noting that the selectmen met on seven occasions in December “to evaluate and discuss her job performance and to consider what actions would serve the Town’s best interests.”
To assure that the selectmen “acted in a manner that was lawful and respective of Ms. Merrow’s rights,” the board, said Murray, “engaged the services of a labor lawyer.”
Murray added that it was “unfortunate that some people have chosen to engage in speculation and to disseminate misinformation. As this is a personnel matter, the Town is limited in its ability to publicly discuss this matter, but will keep the public informed as circumstances permit.”
Merrow began working as town manager in Wolfeboro on June 1, after six years in a similar position with the town of Colebrook. Reached by telephone on Sunday afternoon, Merrow referred inquiries to her attorney, Jon Meyer, of Backus, Meyer & Branch, LLP, who was not immediately available for comment.
During an interview prior to her coming to Wolfeboro, Merrow told the Union Leader that her new job offered a significant pay raise — up from $60,000 to $95,000 — and the opportunity to oversee a municipal budget that is 10 times the $2.5 million Colebrook budget.
In Wolfeboro, as in Colebrook, Merrow said she hoped to mobilize state and federal resources to make local improvements.
A native of Northumberland, Merrow was Northumberland’s town clerk/tax collector from 1995 to 2001; an assistant in the Lancaster and Colebrook district courts from March 2000 to October, 2003; and from Oct. 2003 through July 2009, she served as the administrative services manager for the Town of Lancaster.
Before taking the town manager’s job in Colebrook, Merrow had been town administrator in Grantham for almost three years.