Following a decision by selectmen March 1 not to renew his contract, Town Administrator Jack Driscoll has chosen to take a severance package and leave his job.

Driscoll said his contract was set to expire on June 30, and that he could have continued working until that date but chose not to.

“I asked to be let out early, so that I can go and look for a new position,” he said. He said it would have been inappropriate for him to remain on the job in Northport if part of that time was to be spent looking for a new job elsewhere.

Driscoll said he had a sense from conversations with selectmen in recent months that they were not entirely satisfied with his job performance. Because of that, Driscoll said, he asked selectmen to review the matter of whether or not to renew his contract earlier than they otherwise would have.

When selectmen voted unanimously March 1 not to renew his contract, Driscoll said he then asked them to implement the severance provision of his contract. In exchange for leaving his job now, Driscoll will receive the equivalent of three months’ pay.

Northport Town Clerk Barbara O’Leary, who also serves as the town’s treasurer, said March 9 that the net amount (after taxes were taken out) of Driscoll’s severance package was $9,660.64. That is a one-time, lump-sum payment, according to O’Leary.

Driscoll said selectmen had a vision for the town administrator’s position that included specific goals for a number of projects, and that those goals were not being met to the degree they had hoped for.

“There were a number of very large projects that they had hoped could be coming to fruition by now that weren’t as far along in the process as they had expected,” he said. He cited bringing high-speed Internet service to town and building a new salt shed as two specific examples.

When asked if he thought the expectations selectmen had for him were fair and realistic, Driscoll said, “Some of the expectations were realistic, but others, perhaps, were not.”

Driscoll offered the issue of high-speed Internet service as an example of the latter. Citizens of Northport, he said, are “clamoring” for such service, but making it a reality requires the involvement of multiple parties, not just Northport town government. Driscoll said FairPoint Communications is one such party, and that they are slow to respond to requests as they struggle with bankruptcy.

While acknowledging the board’s decision not to renew his contract and his own decision to leave early had made things “awkward for them and awkward for me,” Driscoll had positive things to say about the town and the selectmen.

“We left on good terms,” he said. He said he wishes the town well, and that he thinks the town is “in good hands” with the current selectmen.

Driscoll was hired as the town’s first-ever town administrator in October 2007. He has lived in Northport since that time, after having previously been a part-time resident for two decades.

According to information in The Republican Journal’s archives from 2007, Northport town officials at that time said they hoped having an administrator would “relieve some of the burden” that had fallen on their shoulders in recent years “due to an increase in state rules and regulations.”

Looking to his own future, Driscoll said he hopes to find another similar position somewhere in the Midcoast region. If he cannot find a job in municipal government, he may look for a job in the private sector. Either way, he said, he is optimistic about his prospects.

“Everything happens for a reason,” he said. “I’m very confident things will work out well for me.”

Selectman Paul Rooney, who serves as chairman of the board of selectmen, said March 9 that he did not have much to add to what Driscoll had already said.

“From our perspective, things weren’t really working out,” said Rooney. “We felt it was in the best interest of the town to sever the relationship now.”

Selectmen do plan to hire a new administrator, though, as Rooney said the board feels the town “desperately needs” someone in that position.

“It’s not a question we’re going to put before voters, because they approved it [previously],” he said.

Rooney said selectmen plan to begin the process of hiring a new town administrator at their next meeting, scheduled for Monday, March 15, and that they hope to begin advertising the job opening in the near future. Rooney said it was unlikely anyone would be hired before town meeting in June, because of the time required to advertise and interview candidates for the position.