Bar Harbor Municipal Building on Cottage Street. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

In the wake of the abrupt resignation Wednesday of Bar Harbor’s town manager, the town plans to have an interim manager appointed next week.

Kevin Sutherland, who began work as Bar Harbor’s town manager in January of last year, did not cite any reasons for his decision to resign, but the Town Council chair later said it was for personal reasons.

The council plans to appoint an interim town manager on Tuesday during a planned workshop with the budget committee, a town spokesperson said.

“The council has reached out to the Maine Municipal Association to work on finding a replacement,” Maya Caines, the town’s communications coordinator, said.

Caines declined to comment on whether the town might seek to rehire one of its former town managers on an interim basis.

Both Cornell Knight, who served as Bar Harbor’s town manager from 2014 through 2021, and Dana Reed, who held the post from 1986 until 2014, are Bar Harbor residents. Both have filled in as interim governmental administrators since leaving Bar Harbor — Knight for Hancock County and Reed for the towns of Tremont and Southwest Harbor.

Sutherland did not respond to a message left at his cell phone number.

As Saco’s city administrator, a position he held from 2015 until the end of 2019, Sutherland had a history of conflicts with other city employees, according to media reports.

In 2018, a former economic development director filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission, alleging that the city and Sutherland discriminated against him based on his age and gender. The commission later supported the claim against the city but dismissed the claim against Sutherland, according to the Saco Bay News.

In 2019, Sutherland placed the city’s police chief and deputy police chief on paid administrative leave for undisclosed reasons. Both were later reinstated after an investigation showed neither the chief or deputy chief had done anything wrong, according to Newscenter Maine.

In 2021, after Sutherland had left his post in Saco, a former parks and rec director filed a lawsuit in York County against Sutherland and the city, arguing that his civil rights were violated when Sutherland fired him in 2017. The lawsuit later was settled out of court, without any admission of wrongdoing, for $92,500, according to The Quietside Journal.

Sutherland also came under fire in Bar Harbor, but from Mount Desert Island residents rather than town employees.

Sutherland was criticized for how he dealt with a protester who drew graffiti on sidewalks, and for how the town was managing its cruise ship traffic. Sutherland met in executive session with the Bar Harbor Town Council to discuss how he handled the graffiti situation, but what kind of feedback he got from council members over the matter has not been disclosed.

In accepting Sutherland’s resignation in Bar Harbor, the council chair said she “regretted” having to tell people that Sutherland had decided to leave his post.

“As a Council, we want to extend our gratitude to Kevin for his effort and work on behalf of the town over this past year,” Val Peacock said. “We wish Kevin and his family the best.”

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....