By Doug Ireland
---- — SALEM — Community development director William Scott is leaving to work closer to home, but he’s also taking a pay cut of more than $20,000 a year.
After 12 years with Salem, Scott said his new job with the town of Amesbury will mean a much shorter commute from his Newburyport home.
But Scott didn’t offer an explanation for why he accepted a deputy community development director position that pays $22,620 less than the $92,705 he earns in Salem.
Salem officials praised Scott for his service and said he was leaving on good terms. They said they could not comment on his behalf.
Selectmen and Town Manager Keith Hickey will discuss plans to replace Scott at the board’s meeting Monday night. Hickey said they could consider changes to the job description, but it would remain a full-time position.
“Bill had a pretty unique skill set, so it’s going to be a challenge to find someone to fill his shoes,” Hickey said. “We’ll try to come up with a game plan on how to move forward.”
It’s hoped a replacement can be found by July, he said.
Hickey said Scott told him last week that he accepted the Amesbury job, but would remain with the town until June 24.
He begins working part time in Amesbury on May 23 and will work there every Thursday until he starts on a full-time basis June 25.
Scott will start with an annual salary of $70,085 in Amesbury, but that increases to $72,537 after six months, according to Amesbury chief of staff Eric Gregoire.
Scott did not return messages Wednesday or yesterday, but he did release a lengthy statement detailing his 12 years of accomplishments in Salem.
“The Amesbury position provides an opportunity to continue to focus on economic and community projects,” he said in his statement.
Scott started in Salem in May 2001, overseeing the senior center project. Before that, Scott worked in similar positions for Newburyport and North Andover.
He described his efforts to secure state and federal grants for numerous projects — a skill that Hickey and Selectmen’s Chairman Everett McBride Jr. said have helped revitalize Salem.
These projects helped lure many new businesses to town, Hickey said.
“He’s gotten millions and millions in grants for this town,” McBride said.
Both officials said Scott will be missed.
“He’s just a real team player, a great guy and a really bright guy,” Hickey said.
“He is a great asset to the town,” McBride said.
McBride said selectmen and Hickey will carefully review the community development director’s position before considering how it should be filled.
“We will have to decide where we go from here,” McBride said.
Staff writer Mac Cerullo contributed to this report.