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Salem renews town manager's contract

SALEM - It looks like another four years for town manager Keith Hickey, who signed a new contract with the town of Salem during Monday night's selectmen's meeting.

Armed with Hickey's recently completed performance evaluation, the board had initially proposed a brief nonpublic session at the start of this week's meeting. Chairman Patrick Hargreaves said the reason for suggesting a nonpublic session was to address a concern that arose with Hickey's initial contract.

Selectman James Keller took issue with the suggested nonpublic session, noting that Hickey's evaluation was a public issue and therefore should be discussed during the public portion of the meeting. Hargreaves said the town's human resources department advised him that the evaluation, which was in a sealed envelope, be opened in private in accordance with personnel policies.

Referring to town ordinance 13:A, which states that town officials are subject to a criminal records and motor vehicle records background check prior to their hire, Hickey said he had no issue with having the report read publicly.

"I have nothing to hide," Hickey told the board, noting that he has no criminal record but was cited for a having an uninspected vehicle in 2008, which he said likely stemmed from his teenage son's use of the vehicle.

Hargreaves said the board opted to give Hickey a four-year contract with a 2 percent pay increase in 2014. The town manager earned $128,492 last year. Hargreaves said the new contract is "mainly the same as before" with major holidays off with pay and five annual sick days.

Hickey agreed to pay 25 percent of his own health coverage. His new contract ends in March 2017. At that time, the selectmen will again review Hickey's contract and performance.

Hickey, 48, was hired by the town in December 2010 and began his duties the following spring.

"He's been doing an excellent job so far," Selectman Michael Lyons said.

Prior to coming to Salem, Hickey, who lives in Merrimack, had spent a decade working in administrative positions for the town of Bedford, followed by four years as the Merrimack town manager. While he previously served on the board of directors for the Local Government Center, which offers health and retirement coverage for state and municipal workers, Hickey resigned from the board in mid-December.

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