METHUEN — The state reluctantly allowed Ken Martin to direct the Methuen Housing Authority 15 years ago in addition to his part-time job as local housing director in Ayer.
Martin's annual salary for both jobs has since ballooned to $183,000. His employment contracts with the Ayer and Methuen housing authorities also include generous perks — including severance clauses guaranteeing him a six-figure lump sum payment in the event he is fired.
Annual one-year extensions to his five-year contracts offer Martin additional job security, according to a review of the contracts obtained by The Eagle-Tribune.
Martin's second director job in Methuen required state approval. But a March 1997 letter from Jane Gumble, then-director of the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, to the Methuen and Ayer housing boards shows the state did not fully support the arrangement.
Gumble wrote, in part, "As I have stated previously, the department believes that it would be in the best interest of the MHA to hire an executive director who is able to devote his/her time and attention exclusively to the operations of the Methuen Housing Authority, and who does not have competing responsibilities at another housing authority."
Gumble wrote that DHCD planned to impose several conditions before approving the contract, including requirements that Martin work a minimum 37.5 hours a week in Methuen and 20 hours in Ayer.
Ayer is a town of about 7,400 people located 30 miles southwest of Methuen. Martin, 58, who lives in Dracut, recently said he often works 60 to 70 hours a week between both jobs.
Martin first came to Methuen in 1990 as then-Town Manager Michael McLaughlin's choice for public works director. Martin left the job in the mid-1990s to direct the Methuen Housing Authority.
Martin has also directed the Ayer Housing Authority for the last 29 years.