SALEM — Town Manager Keith Hickey said yesterday he has taken action to stop town employees from complaining to residents that they are “overworked and underpaid” and should speak to selectmen.
“I’ve addressed it and that’s all I’m going to say,” he said.
Hickey said he was surprised to hear from Selectman Patrick Hargreaves during the board’s meeting Monday night that town employees are telling Town Hall customers they should take all their problems to selectmen.
“It is completely inappropriate,” Hickey said. “I expect it to stop occurring.”
In a five-minute outburst at the end of a nearly four-hour meeting, Hargreaves said he was angry and frustrated to have residents stop off at his business and say they were told at Town Hall to speak to him.
“I had people come to my shop that were very dissatisfied with things that were happening in town,” he said. “They were complaining about inspections and not getting things done in a proper manner.”
Hargreaves said he usually doesn’t mind when residents want to speak to him about town issues.
But when 20 residents, including three major developers, stopped off at his shop, Pat’s Lock “N” Key on North Broadway, last week to complain about problems with town services, it was just too much to take. Hargreaves said he couldn’t get his work done.
“When (town employees) are telling them, ‘Go talk to selectmen because we are overworked and underpaid,’ and they are interfering with my business, I have a problem with this,” Hargreaves said. “I really felt it was done on purpose.”
He said complaints originated from the offices in the Town Hall basement, where the town clerk and tax collector offices are located.
Town Clerk Susan Wall and Deputy Tax Collector Donna Bergeron declined to comment yesterday, referring questions to Hickey. Tax Collector Cheryl-Ann Bolouk was on vacation and unavailable for comment.