Salem Town Manager awarded raise, again

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Breanna Edelstein, The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.
·2 min read
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Mar. 17—SALEM, N.H. — Town Manager Chris Dillon will receive a 2.5% raise starting April 1, according to a brief announcement this week by Board of Selectmen Chairperson Michael Lyons.

The nearly $4,000 bump in pay follows a larger one last year, when Dillon's salary was increased by 8% or about $12,000. That brought his annual salary from $138,375 to $150,000.

Overall, records show his pay is up 13% percent in about three years, since he started as a new town manager.

Dillon's contract states that selectmen are responsible for reviewing the manager's performance annually and determining the amount of salary increase, if any, for the next year of his contract.

During a portion of this week's regularly scheduled meeting reserved for chairman comments, Lyons said, "Last week the board did approve a salary action for the Town Manager of 2.5% effective April 1." No conversation ensued.

Selectmen did not respond to questions from The Eagle-Tribune about specifics of the review, including any votes taken to finalize the raise. Dillon also did not respond when given a chance to comment.

The subject of the manager's raise during the pandemic came to a head at a Budget Committee meeting last month, when selectman representative James Keller came under fire for an incorrect explanation he gave back in October regarding Dillon's salary.

When asked at the time, Keller said Dillon's 8% raise was written into his contract. However, when a member of the committee later reviewed the town manager's contract, there was no mention of an obligatory increase in pay.

Committee members agreed their concern is not with the town manager's performance, but with the answer they were given after asking if the raise was already promised in a contract.

Member Peter Edgerly said, "This isn't the year to give someone almost a $12,000 raise. Personally, I don't care if the town manger struck oil on town property when there are people in town getting laid off, furloughed and are in financial crisis."

He added, "Transparency in government is crucial. I don't think this process was entirely transparent."