Newport Mayor Khamsyvoravong Defies City Charter, Appoints City Manager with No Experience at Jaw-Dropping $225,000 Annual Salary

In a contentious move that has stirred controversy throughout Newport, Mayor Xaykham Khamsyvoravong spearheaded the Newport City Council’s decision to appoint Colin Kennedy as the city’s new City Manager, flouting Newport’s City Charter Section 5.1 in the process. This decision, made during Wednesday night’s special council meeting, has raised eyebrows due to Kennedy’s complete lack of municipal experience and the unprecedented $225,000 annual salary attached to his appointment.

According to Newport’s City Charter Section 5.1, the City Manager is required to possess municipal experience. However, Kennedy’s resume reveals zero municipal experience in his background. His most notable previous role was as the head of the Naval Reserve Travel Office at the Newport Naval Base, where he oversaw a staff of 20 and a budget of $372,000. While impressive in its own right, this experience pales in comparison to the demands of managing Newport’s city affairs. Kennedy oversaw an annual budget less than 1/3 of 1% of Newport’s annual budget, which, to put it simply, is less than half of the annual parking revenues generated at Easton’s Beach.

The decision to hire Kennedy at such a substantial salary has further fueled controversy. At $225,000 annually, Kennedy becomes the highest-paid municipal executive in Rhode Island, despite his lack of relevant experience. To put this figure into perspective, Newport’s former City Manager, Joe Nicholson, retired in 2023 with 37 years of experience, earning $189,000 annually.

Opposition to Kennedy’s appointment was fierce among certain council members. Councilors Ceglie, Carlin, and Napolitano raised concerns about his suitability for the role, citing his inadequate experience. Councilor Carlin even proposed an amendment to reduce Kennedy’s starting salary to a more reasonable $189,000, aligning it with Nicholson’s former earnings. However, the amendment was defeated in a close 4-3 vote, with Mayor Khamsyvoravong and Councilor Aramli arguing that the inflated salary was necessary to live in Newport. Councilors McCalla and Holder also voted for the $225,000 package. Kennedy’s contract also allows him to accept limited teaching, consulting, or other business opportunities, and he shall also be allowed to continue his high school and youth sports official activities.

Additionally, the contract gives Kennedy five weeks of paid vacation and two weeks of paid sick days.

Councilor Ceglie delivered a passionate speech denouncing the decision to flout the City Charter. She argued that disregarding Section 5.1 undermines the very foundation of Newport’s governance structure, likening it to discarding the city’s constitution. In a dramatic gesture, Ceglie tore up Section 5.1 of the City Charter, symbolizing her disdain for the council’s actions.

Councilors Ceglie, Carlin, and Napolitano all supported Laura Sitrin, Newport’s former finance director and acting City Manager, who is a single mother with 23 years of municipal experience.

As Newport grapples with the aftermath of this controversial appointment and charter violation, questions linger about the implications for the city’s governance.

Mayor Xaykham Khamsyvoravong’s Providence, Pawtucket, Central Falls style leadership has created Newport’s most dysfunctional city council in decades.




Like Newport Buzz? We depend on the generosity of readers like you who support us, to help with our mission to keep you informed and entertained with local, independent news and content. We truly appreciate your trust and support!