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February 6, 2013

Salem town manager gets new contract

Four of five selectmen happy with performance

SALEM — Town Manager Keith Hickey has been given a new four-year contract with a 2 percent pay raise this year.

Selectmen voted, 4-1, in favor of the agreement Monday night, saying the contract will provide stability to town government.

Selectman Stephen Campbell was opposed to the deal.

Hickey’s salary will rise to $133,000. He was earning approximately $130,500 after receiving a 2 percent raise last year.

Selectmen recently conducted their annual evaluation of Hickey and concluded they wanted to make sure he stays with the town for a long time, Selectmen’s Chairman Patrick Hargreaves said.

“I think giving Keith a four-year contract is what’s best for the town,” Hargreaves said yesterday.

There is no change in benefits, he said.

Hickey, 48, began his tenure with the town in March 2011, agreeing to a three-year contract that paid him $128,000 in the first year. Last year, he was awarded a new three-year contract that would have ended in 2015.

The contract included a “rolling” provision that allowed an additional year to be tacked on each time it came up for review. Hargreaves and Campbell were the only selectmen to vote against the contract last year, saying they did not feel comfortable with the option.

Hargreaves said he voted in favor of the new contract because he thinks Hickey is doing a solid job.

“He’s a good, but fair town manager,” Hargreaves said. “But nobody is excellent. There is always room for improvement from anybody.”

Campbell would not say yesterday why he opposed the contract, declining to comment further on his vote.

“I don’t think it was in the best interests of Salem,” he said.

Hickey said he was pleased to receive the extended deal.

“It came to me completely by surprise,” he said. “It’s very much appreciated.”

Hickey said he has enjoyed his two years at the helm in Salem. He previously served as town manager in Bedford and Merrimack.

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