AVON - Four members of the Avon Town Council decided the town's management needed to change. That's why Feb. 29 is current town manager Larry Brooks' last day of full-time work.
A sharply split Avon council last week accepted Brooks' resignation and approved a new employment agreement that will keep him on the town's payroll through the end of this year. Brooks will make roughly the same amount this year he did in 2011 - just more than $150,000.
At the meeting, Mayor Rich Carroll and council members Amy Phillips and Kristi Ferarro made it clear they didn't want Brooks to leave. That left council members Chris Evans, Todd Goulding, Buz Reynolds and Dave Dantas on the side that wanted to make a change.
"It was an extremely tough decision," Evans said. "Larry didn't do anything wrong."
But, Evans said, he and the other council members who wanted to replace the town manager still believed it was in the town's best interest to make a change.
The town's contentious relationship with the developers of the Traer Creek project in town played a role in the decision, Evans said.
After several years and hundreds of thousands of town money spent on litigation, the town and the developers last year announced they would work to negotiate a settlement in the case.
Evans said it will benefit the town to have a new face representing it in those talks.
"There's just been so much animosity... if we can have a neutral face, I think it would help," Evans said.
But Brooks will also spend much of his time this year advising the town about the Traer Creek case.
Dantas agreed that Brooks had done a fine job over his nine years as town manager, but agreed it was time for a new manager.
"You have to make changes now and then, and not be afraid to make a change," Dantas said.
With Brooks on his way out, the council will start work on how to choose a new town manager over its next couple of meetings.
"It may take us nine or 10 months to pick a new manager," Evans said.
Dantas said while the process isn't defined yet, and will take the agreement of at least four council members, he hopes the town looks both inside and outside the organization for a new manager. And, while Dantas said he isn't entirely sure what the town's next manager might look like, he did say there are some core skills the council should look for, including a marketing or business background.
The first thing, though, is appointing an interim manager, Evans said.
"After that, we'll go one step at a time," he said.