Methuen council approves three-year CAFO contract

·3 min read

Jun. 8—METHUEN — The City Council, during its June 6 meeting, voted 7-1 to approve a three-year contract for Chief Administrative and Financial Officer (CAFO) Maggie Duprey.

The contract was renegotiated following a heated council meeting on March 21.

Council Chairman DJ Beauregard acknowledged that the March meeting got out of hand as residents came to the podium saying "all sorts of awful things" about Duprey.

During the June 6 meeting, Beauregard took responsibility for not intervening during the March meeting.

"I own that, I should have gavelled that out of order," he said. "I want to personally apologize to you, it was inappropriate and we can't let that happen again."

Duprey's contract now states that on July 1, her annual salary will increase from $173,400 to $185,000. In fiscal year 2024, Duprey's salary will increase to $188,700. A third increase is scheduled for fiscal year 2025 which will bring her salary to $192,474. Other benefits include 15 sick days, four weeks of vacation, one week of personal time as well as health, dental and life insurance.

Council Vice Chairwoman Eunice Zeigler credited Duprey with bolstering Methuen's bond rating, which was recently elevated to AA- by Standard and Poor's. The city's bond rating had also been increased in November 2021.

"In the last year, we've seen our bond rating continue to go up," said Zeigler. "That's not easy to do."

Central District Councilor Joel Faretra said comparing the city's current financial position to where it was three years ago would be like comparing "apples to dump trucks."

"I'm glad to vote 'yes' on this contract," he said.

Councilor-at-Large Nicholas DiZoglio said the city's finances were "a mess" before Duprey became Methuen's CAFO in April 2019.

"For too long, the city played with its finances like it was a town," he said. "We spent money like it was nothing. This CAFO cleaned up that mess."

East District Councilor Steven Saba lauded Duprey for her job performance despite the complexities of her profession.

"It's certainly not an easy job, I told her that during the budget process," he said. "She's doing a great job and working as hard as she possibly can."

The lone dissenting vote was cast by Councilor-at-Large Jessica Finocchiaro.

"This contract goes further than what I feel comfortable with given the very large increase that we have to the rest of our budget," she said.

MASSDOT

The council also voted unanimously to accept a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation totaling $392,659.

The funds will be used to construct three in-lane bus stops along the half-mile stretch of Lower Broadway between Park Street and the Lawrence city line. There are also plans for additional transit shelters, ramps, six crosswalks, pedestrian islands and three rectangular rapid flashing beacons.

The state is expected to issue a Notice to Proceed by Aug. 1 with construction starting no later than Dec. 31, 2023.

Finocchiaro said she is pleased to see the project moving forward as that section of Lower Broadway continues to be a "grave safety concern."

"This is a great step in the right direction," she said.