After an extended closed session on Wednesday, Feb. 13 – that actually ran until 1 a.m. the following day – the Summerfield Town Council came into open session and voted 4-to-1 to give Summerfield Town Manager Scott Whitaker 60 days notice that his current contract would not be renewed.

There was a long pause and quite a bit of tension in the room before the motion was made and Whitaker was sitting right next to the town councilmembers when he got the news.

There was little discussion before the vote at about 1 a.m. and there was some ambiguity right afterward.

One councilmember spoke on how unfair the current contract was to the town and cited many conditions in the contract that he saw as problematic, while another mentioned the possibility of “renegotiating.”

However, many residents in Summerfield take the action as clear writing on the wall that Whitaker will not be the town manager at the end of his current contract – and some suggested, given the move by the council, that he may choose to leave soon no matter what the council has in mind.

Whitaker is making over $150,000 a year, and if fired without 60 day notice would get a full year’s salary along with other benefits such as comp pay.

Whitaker has been the town manager for over a decade and the new Town Council is a lot different than the one that initially granted Whitaker the contract.  Many past town councils have been highly supportive of Whitaker through thick and thin. However, over the past year, there have been some tense moments at meetings between the current councilmembers and Whitaker.

Summerfield has faced a lot of major decision making in recent years – such as what to do regarding a large proposed development brought to the council by farmer and developer David Couch and whether or not to pursue a town water system.

Longtime residents say that 1 a.m. is the latest time a Town Council meeting has run in Summerfield’s history, however, one former councilmember said that a meeting in June of 2018 ran until 2 a.m.