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Fulton ousted as Bristol Bay Borough manager

December 1st, 2017 | Dave Bendinger, KDLG Print this article   Email this article  

John Fulton was fired Monday night at a special meeting of the Bristol Bay Borough Assembly, following an evaluation of his performance. The vote was three to two, with assembly members Mary Swain and Pete Caruso dissenting. Fulton, who has been the borough manager since February, 2013, was terminated "without cause," and as per his contract will receive eight months' pay as severance. His annual salary, reapproved in early 2015, was $118,000.

Recently elected Mayor Dan O'Hara said assembly members had asked for Monday's special meeting to evaluate Fulton's performance and contract, which he said is always reviewed this time of the year.

"They reviewed his contract, and then four of the five members voted to discontinue his services with the borough," O'Hara said.

Meeting minutes show assembly member Pete Caruso asked to change his vote, meaning the official tally was three-to-two in favor of the dismissal. Becky Savo, the borough planner, was installed as interim manager by Tuesday morning.

Prior to his time with Bristol Bay, Fulton spent five years in Unalaska, resigning in 2012 as the assistant city manager. He worked in Dillingham from 1998 to 2006, records show, first for three years in the planning department, then for five years as the city manager. The city council did not renew his contract in 2006.

Fulton is also a Bristol Bay commercial fisherman and, according to Carvel Zimin, Jr., the Bristol Bay Borough assembly president, his salary reflects the time he is given off to fish each summer.

Zimin, Jr. was a "yes" vote to end Fulton's contract, but on Tuesday had only positive things to say about the now former manager's tenure.

"I think John did a great job, and he was here for five years. He was very good at the projects he did for the borough, especially at the port, the sewer projects, and other things he accomplished while he was here," he said.

The manager's evaluation was conducted in executive session Monday night and specifics are being kept private. Mayor O'Hara, however, emphasized the contract was ended without any specific cause.

"I think the assembly felt like there was a lot of division with the department heads and it was time to take a change in leadership," he said. "That's just about as simply as we could say it."

O'Hara pointed out that the assembly was "very, very good" to Fulton in the terms of a severance package. Zimin, Jr., confirmed the assembly agreed to pay eight months of salary for ending the contract, which set to expire at the end of year, without cause.

Last summer, the assembly changed the manager's contract from an indefinite term of employment, adding an end date of Dec. 31, according to Zimin, Jr. That change was signed July 17, he said, and gave the assembly more options. No explanations were offered for why the assembly chose to buy Fulton out early — to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars — rather than allow his contract to expire in another month.

Becky Savo was on the job as interim manager Tuesday morning, and the borough said it will begin advertising the permanent position soon.

Mr. Fulton could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning.


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