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February 13, 2013

Salem confrontation sparked by severance package

(Continued)

But Lyons did say selectmen knew about the severance agreement in advance, objecting to Campbell’s remarks.

“I totally 100 percent disagree with that,” Lyons said.

Lyons said he and Keller asked that the severance be discussed in public, but the other selectmen declined.

When Hickey presented his proposed 2013 budget to selectmen last summer, the plan called for eliminating two full-time positions and money for Fourth of July fireworks and the Cooperative Alliance for Regional Transportation bus service.

The $16,000 for fireworks and money for CART were eventually restored, but the two positions — including Zannini’s — were not.

Hickey said Zannini was retiring at the end of the year and his position was being eliminated to save money. He was replaced by a part-time building inspector.

Campbell said Monday he didn’t know why the town was paying a retiring employee $42,000. He declined to comment about the severance when contacted yesterday and would not identify Zannini by name.

But the memo McKean sent to Hickey mentions the six-month severance package for Zannini.

“As part of a reorganization of the Community Development Department, Mr. Zannini’s position was eliminated, effective January, 1, 2013,” the memo reads.

“Upon being told this, during the budgeting process, Mr. Zannini advised that he would retire concurrently with the elimination of his position. He was not planning to retire otherwise.”

While Campbell said he was surprised to hear of the severance, Hickey said yesterday the board knew Zannini was retiring only because his position was cut from the town budget.

“If the position hadn’t been eliminated, he would still be working,” Hickey said.

Board Chairman Patrick Hargreaves and Selectman Everett McBride Jr. could not be reached yesterday for comment.

Zannini also could not be reached yesterday for comment. He served in numerous town positions over the years, including health officer, code enforcement officer and plumbing inspector.

When he retired, fellow employees praised Zannini for his calm demeanor and ability to work with people to resolve problems.

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