The chairman of the Westport Zoning Board of Review has rescinded his resignation, after members of the select board apologized earlier this month for their actions surrounding his request that they …
The chairman of the Westport Zoning Board of Review has rescinded his resignation, after members of the select board apologized earlier this month for their actions surrounding his request that they award a pay raise to, and change the job title of, the board's principal clerk.
In early February, zoning chairman Roger Menard appeared before the select board seeking final approval for his request to reclassify the clerk's job title, and award her a modest hourly pay raise from $22 to $27 per hour. The change came in recognition of the hard work she does to keep the zoning board, arguably one of the town's most critical boards, running efficiently, and personnel board chairwoman Cindy Brown, who appeared with him, also recommended the change.
But though Menard had appeared before the select board previously on the matter and also met with the personnel board as directed by select board members, select board members declined to approve the changes in February, instead sending him back to the personnel board for more discussion on the matter.
When they did, he abruptly rose from his chair, tendered his resignation and walked out of the meeting. He followed up afterwards with an official letter of resignation, though the select board did not officially accept it.
Last week, Menard went back before the board to explain his decision to resign, saying he wouldn't change his mind unless he received an acknowledgement from the board that they erred in not concluding the matter in February.
"My resignation was a matter of principal," he told them, explaining that after going through all the steps directed by the select board and getting indications that members would approve the change, but still not getting a resolution he thought was fair and honorable, he said, he had no choice but to resign.
"What really, really bothered me was essentially what I felt was the town reneging on an agreement that had already been made," he said.
"As a man of principal I couldn't tolerate that. I'm not really arguing about the wage, I'm arguing about your process and my feeling that you violated the principal. I expected the town to abide by that commitment."
In his mind, he said, select board members had two options: "You can accept my resignation (or) you can ask me to rescind, and I will consider it if you agree that you made mistakes."
Though board members said that they tried their best to accommodate the change in the face of what Brian Valcourt called a confusing mishmash of personnel regulations held together by "bandaid upon bandaid, pieces of string and vice grips," several agreed that they had erred in February when not bringing his request to a vote.
"I do acknowledge that we made mistakes on our end," Richard Brewer said. "No excuses, but I do apologize for myself now in that regard."
"I think you've done a great job on the zoning board of appeals," chairwoman Shana Shufelt added. "The zoning board is probably the most powerful board there is (and) I know you put in countless hours. I don't appreciate the way you (resigned), but I do appreciate that it was very frustrating. We were all frustrated. I do apologize for bringing you to that point and I'm glad that you did come back to us and talk to us."
"I accept your apology and I rescind my resignation," he said.