Following a closed session Tuesday night, the Smithfield Town Council voted 4-to-3 to fire Town Manager Paul Sabiston. The firing was effective immediately. Sabiston had been on the job a little more than 3 years.
The closed session was held to review the town managers job performance.
After going behind closed doors around 9:40pm then reconvening at 10:15pm, Town Councilman Perry Harris made a motion to terminate Sabiston’s contract and “move in another direction.”
Councilman Marlon Lee seconded the motion. Councilman Harris and Lee were joined by Travis Scott and Charles Williams in the vote to fire Sabiston.
Mayor Pro Tem Andy Moore and council members Roger Wood and Emery Ashley voted against the firing.
After the vote the meeting was adjourned and Sabiston immediately left the council chambers.
Following the meeting, Councilman Harris told WTSB News, “It was a very difficult situation. We just think we can do better.”
Harris said there was no single issue that led the council to its decision.
Councilman Ashley said he was very disappointed with the firing. “I cannot think of one thing (Sabiston) has not done he has been asked to do.”
Mayor Pro Tem Moore agreed saying, “It’s a sad day for Smithfield. We definitely had a manager leading us in the right direction.” Moore credited Sabiston with helping guide the council through a lawsuit with former town manager Eric Williams and the completion of a reorganization of town departments. Moore also credited Sabiston with helping improve the finances of the Town of Smithfield.
Under the provisions of his contract, Sabiston will be paid 50 percent of his annual base salary.
An interim town manager could be named by town officials as early as Wednesday.