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Duggan Awarded Raise, Selectmen Split Over Cell Tower

Oct 26, 2016 09:58AM ● By Andrew Sylvia

Dracut Selectmen. File photo

The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted Town Manager James Duggan a two percent raise on Tuesday night, going into effect retroactively from July 1. 

The discussion regarding a raise was a part of Duggan’s contract, where the issue of a raise is discussed following a yearly evaluation on the Town Manager’s performance.

That performance evaluation was made public at the Oct. 11 Selectmen’s meeting, with ratings varying among the five Selectmen. 

Selectman Tony Archinski took that point into account as he introduced the discussion regarding Duggan’s raise, noting that evaluations by their nature can be somewhat subjective. 

Within the evaluation, Archinski gave Duggan several “5 out of 5” scores, with an overall average of 4.23 out of 5, the highest among the five selectmen. He noted that others may not give out a perfect score due to very high standards or a feeling that a 5 would leave no room for future improvement. 

Archinski proposed the two percent figure as a compromise between the quality work he saw from Duggan’s performance and efforts to maintain fiscal discipline within town government.

No one on the board spoke against giving Duggan a raise in principle, although Selectman Joe DiRocco tempered his generalized support for giving raises to municipal employees as a matter of fairness with his frustration over Duggan’s performance.

That frustration stemmed from issues ranging from the recent ambulance contract to morale within town hall and a need for Duggan to work in greater concert with the town government’s department heads. 

In contrast to Archinski, DiRocco’s gave Duggan an overall 2 out of 5 average score, the lowest among the five selectmen.  

“I’m not going to recommend no raise, that’s not fair, but the situation’s not as rosy as some others are putting up,” he said.

DiRocco added that the Board of Selectmen needs to do more to direct the Town Manager’s actions, indicating that the opposite was taking place. 

Selectman Tami Dristilaris noted that former Town Manager Dennis Piendak was given a 13 percent raise in 2011, although DiRocco noted that was Piendak’s first raise in five years. 

The Selectmen also finalized their recommendations on warrant articles for Fall Special Town Meeting on Nov. 7. 

Drawing the most discussion was Article 20, a measure allowing a “stealth” cell phone tower shaped as a historic water tower replica on the Beaver Brook Farm property.

Although there was general support for the article in principle, some confusion over wording within the article. As the article was submitted the Beaver Brook Farm Committee and the warrant was closed in any case, an amendment on the floor of Town Meeting will be required to address the issue of the wording.

The Selectmen voted 3-2 to recommend the article, with Jesse Forcier and Archinski voting not to recommend the specific wording that was before the board on Tuesday night. 

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