GRAFTON -- The woman who has served as town administrator for the past eight years put in her final hours on the job Friday, four days after announcing her resignation to the Selectboard and citing frustration with its members as the reason.
Jackie LeBlanc, who took the job on July 11, 2005, told the Reformer she chose to step down from her post after receiving two reviews she felt were unfair. She read a letter explaining her decision to Selectboard members at last Monday's meeting, saying she had to do what was best for her.
"Last year was the first year I ever received a demoralizing review from a Selectboard, in my over eight years as town administrator. There was not one positive point made. When I asked about this, I was told by the chairman (Al Sands) that 'that was how reviews go,'" she stated. "Last year the road crew received hefty raises, which they deserve. I was offered a cost-of-living increase, which I turned down because I didn't want to accept something it was clear the board thought I didn't deserve. Frankly, I was hurt."
LeBlanc further explained that she then asked to be reviewed in six months' time to see if any improvements had been made, but this never happened, and she did not get any feedback throughout the year.
"But it turns out the chairman was keeping track of every little nitpicking error, because when I sat down with Al and (Selectboard Clerk) Peter (Jeziorski) last week," she wrote, "I read the first paragraph of this year's review and realized it was the same, exact review as last year's, even though the town's Personnel Policy says that records of review remain in the personnel folder 'to provide future Selectboards an historical record of an employee's performance. However, these records shall not be used as criteria for current appraisal.'"
LeBlanc elaborated to the Reformer, saying her most recent review brought up mistakes, namely a paycheck error she made in 2011. She said after Tropical Storm Irene swept through in August of that year, the town recruited four people -- including Sands, who was not yet on the Selectboard -- as independent contractors. Each contractor received a different rate of pay and LeBlanc said she made an error, which she later rectified, on a paycheck to Sands. LeBlanc said the Selectboard has harped on this error in its past two reviews, even though issues like this are not supposed to resurface after they have been addressed and corrected.
"It's clear to me that I will never perform to this board's satisfaction. Life is too short to remain in such a hostile work environment. I believe I have done some good work for the town in the past eight years," she said at Monday's meeting. "I like my job. I like dealing with people, solving problems, writing grants and getting money for the town. And I especially love working with (Assistant Town Clerk) Cynthia (Gibbs) and (Town Clerk) Kim (Record), and I love working with Danny (Taylor) and the rest of the road crew. I'm going to miss each and every one of them. I have also enjoyed working with past boards, who usually had some positive feedback on my performance."
Sands said he and other Selectboard members have been advised by legal counsel not to comment on the issue.
In an e-mail to the Reformer, LeBlanc said she always envisioned finishing her professional career in her hometown and is sorry she will not get the chance to do so. She said she has accepted a job with a company in New Hampshire and will start on Jan. 27.
Domenic Poli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.