TRURO — The candidate selected to become the new town manager taking Rae Ann Palmer’s place turned out to be the wrong man for the job when negotiations over salary and benefits broke down on Monday.
The Truro Select Board issued a terse statement on Sept. 1, saying that the board had to let Robert Wood, of Texas, go, following a discussion on his compensation package that was held in a closed-door meeting on Aug. 31.
“After considerable negotiations, the board concluded that further negotiations would not be productive and have notified Mr. Wood of its decision,” the statement said. “The board wishes Mr. Wood every success in his job search and will make no further comment on the negotiations.”
The select board will discuss what to do next at a public meeting on Sept. 4. The time of the meeting had not been posted on the town website at press time.
Wood, 49, accepted the town manager position on Aug. 12, pending contract negotiations, without having ever set foot in Truro, he told the Independent two weeks ago. He had been interviewed via Zoom.
The select board liked his experience in municipal government in Texas, though two of the five board members preferred the other finalist, Sean O’Brien, currently head of the Barnstable County Dept. of Health and Environment.
Wood was the city manager of Flatonia, Texas, with about 1,400 residents, for eight years. He then served for 12 years as city manager of West Lake Hills, Texas, a suburb of Austin. After that, he took a job as interim city manager for four months in Bastrop, Texas.
In 2015, he earned $179,837 in West Lake Hills, according to govsalaries.com.
Truro was offering a maximum of $160,000. Palmer, the outgoing town manager, earns about $153,000 a year, plus benefits.
“He was accustomed to a salary that exceeded what Truro would pay, especially during a pandemic,” said Kristen Reed of the select board. “I’m really disappointed.”
The Outer Cape is in a rut when it comes to town leadership. Provincetown’s town manager, Robin Craver, left as her six-month probationary period was about to expire in July. Now, Truro must look again without much time. Palmer had already extended her retirement date by several months and has plans to retire at the end of September.
Both communities used the head-hunting firm Community Paradigm Associates. After Craver left, the Provincetown Select Board voted against using them again.
Wood did not return calls seeking comment.