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New Contract, Substantial Raise For Town Manager Duggan

Jul 14, 2017 03:24PM ● By Bill Gilman

Town Manager Jim Duggan (file photo)

"Fiscal responsibility" was the catch phrase Tuesday night, as the Dracut Board of Selectmen debated the particulars  of a new, three-year contract for Town Manager,

Three members of the board felt that Duggan was deserving of a $170,000 annual salary, in part, because he had shown great fiscal responsibility during his tenure. Two dissenting members felt that the proposed $24,000 raise was, well, fiscally irresponsible.

In the end, Duggan's new deal, which is retroactive to May 5 and runs through June, 2020, was approved by a 3-2 vote. Chairwoman Alison Hughes, Tony Archinski and Jesse Forcier voted in favor, with Tami Dristiliaris and Joseph DiRocco, Jr. voting against.

In addition to the $24,000 raise, the new contract includes unlimited use of a town vehicle and an increase in vacation "buy-back" days from 10 to 15 annually.

Duggan said he was pleased and gratified by the board's decision and by the support for him shown by all members of the board.

"All of the selectmen wanted me to stay. They feel I'm doing a good job," he said, "The rest is just a difference of opinion. (Dristiliaris and DiRocco) were just looking out for the residents and I respect that."

Duggan said  $170,000 salary makes Dracut competitive with other like-sized communities.

"We didn't go into negotiations without doing some research. It wasn't a number we just pulled out of the air," he said. "For a town like Dracut, of 30,000-plus, the average salary for a town manager is about $178,000."

Duggan has enjoyed several economic development "wins" over the past year, including two assisted living projects, the $26 million Genesis Healthcare project and a new Lowell General Hospital project. In all, there has been roughly $70 million in new economic development.

Hughes said Duggan had brought in "more money than we've seen in the last 30 years," and was deserving of the raise.

DiRocco voiced concern that despite the three-year contract, there might be a call for another raise at Duggan's next evaluation.

Dristiliaris said her problem wasn't with Duggan or his performance but with the size and timing of the raise, saying that a $24,000 bump in salary all at one time was not "fiscally sound."

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