CANTON — After a four-and-half-hour closed session Thursday, the Canton governing board suspended its town manager without pay pending further board action.
Town employees learned that Jason Burrell was suspended and that Assistant Town Manager Nick Scheuer would be temporarily stepping into the manager role at a Friday afternoon meeting when Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers made the announcement.
Town Attorney William Morgan said the decision was unanimous. He provided the town personnel policy showing that suspension without pay is one of the more serious actions a board can take regarding employee disciplinary actions. He said he was not aware of any other disciplinary actions taken against Burrell during the course of his employment with the town.
When asked when the board might revisit the issue and what could trigger that action, Morgan said that was uncertain.
“In terms of reasons, we can’t go into anything,” he said, citing the state personnel statutes that allow only limited information such as job title, date of hire, salary, and dates of certain disciplinary actions contained in personnel records to be disclosed to the public.
Until the issue is resolved, Scheuer, whose job description includes stepping in when the town manager isn’t available, will take on the town manager duties.
“Per his job description, Nick will assume duties as manager just as he steps in when Jason is on vacation,” Smathers said. “He will be assisted by Town Clerk Lisa Stinnett and Natalie Walker, our CFO, as well as all town employees who will continue to fulfill their obligations and serve the citizens in the amazing, thoughtful and productive manner that existed before this action.”
Just as Burrell handled both the duties of his then-position as assistant manager and that of manager following the 2014 departure of Seth Hendler-Voss, Scheuer will tackle both jobs.
“I don’t think anyone will see any change in service or response,” Smathers said.
Burrell was the assistant town manager in 2014 and appointed interim town manager following the departure of then-manager Al Matthews. He was one of three finalists for the top position in March 2014 when the board hired Seth Hendler-Voss. After Hendler-Voss’ departure in April 2017, the board opted to not go through the search process, and Burrell was promoted to the town manager position.
He handled the duties of both the manager and assistant town manager until Scheuer was hired about a year later.