Despite his big raise, the town manager is still the lowest paid among 15 area communities
By Mark E. Vogler
Selectmen spent several months reviewing the contracts, salaries and benefits of top level town officials in area communities comparable to Saugus before voting to give Town Manager Scott C. Crabtree a $30,000-a-year pay raise during the initial year of a new five-year contract.
“We looked at salaries, benefits, population, budgets, direct reports, etc. of surrounding cities and towns in order to arrive at a fair and reasonable compensation package,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Debra Panetta said this week.
“We thoroughly reviewed the information of the other communities to ensure that we are compensating our town manager fairly,” she said.
But Crabtree’s current contract – which would increase his pay by about $10,000 next August – still keeps him the lowest paid among the nine town managers and five town administrators that selectmen compared. (See related story.)
“I think the most important thing about the contract – we have secured Scott Crabtree for the next five years,” Selectman Jennifer D’Eon said, while noting that Crabtree is still the lowest paid
I still feel like he’s the lowest paid town manager in the surrounding communities, but we’re doing the best we can. We really are. And I’m elated that for the next five years, we know who our leader is, and that makes me feel good,” she said.
D’Eon recalled a couple of years ago when two officials from Stoneham approached her over breakfast to discuss Crabtree and whether he was available. “They asked. That was [in] the back of my mind – that other communities are looking for town managers,” she said.
These are the most significant new components of the town manager’s contract signed earlier this month by selectmen and Crabtree:
- For the first time, the town manager will have a vehicle of his own, which he will be able to use for personal business because of the requirement that he be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But the car must still be approved by Town Meeting. The police chief, fire chief, DPW director, building inspector and assorted captains also have cars.
- He will receive a cost of living increase of 3 percent during the third year of the contract.
- The salary and compensation package will be reviewed and discussed annually with surrounding towns, and comparative positions adjusted as mutually agreed by the parties.
- For the first time, he will be subject to an annual performance review. The town manager will meet in Executive Session with selectmen to discuss town goals and objectives and progress for achieving those town goals and objectives.
“One of the most important aspects of the contract was including an annual review, setting goals and objective for the town manager,” Panetta said.
“Doing evaluation is new,” D’Eon added. “He’ll be evaluated by his peers, the fire chief and the police chief – many department heads.”
Here’s what Crabtree and each of the five selectmen had to say about the contract they negotiated and recently signed.
“Scott has been an excellent Saugus town manager. For years, Saugus has had a ‘revolving door’ of town managers, which resulted in instability for our town. Signing Scott on for another five years will ensure the continuity and continuous growth in our town, enabling us to continue as a full-service community.
“Our financial position has never been stronger, where our bond rate is the highest it’s ever been in Saugus’ history. We are moving Saugus forward with economic development, new parks and playgrounds, and a new middle/high school. Being a fourth generation Saugonian, Scott is truly vested in our town. This is an exciting time for Saugus, and there is no doubt that we will continue the successes in Saugus with Scott as town manager. With Scott’s education, experience, dedication and commitment to the people of Saugus, I supported his new contract.”
“I’m very happy for Town Manager Crabtree and his family in being given a five-year contract. This will bring stability to the town while continuing to better the bond rating (already a AA +), increase the certified free cash the town has, and improving our parks and playgrounds. I’m proud to be working with such a great town manager who is making our community a place where people want to live and raise a family.”
Board of Selectmen Vice Chairman Jeffrey Cicolini
“I am proud to have supported a contract extension for our town manager. This board used comparative data from other communities to establish parameters for the contract. I also stood by my promise to make sure the contract included the key components I felt were important.
“Our town has flourished operationally and financially under Scott’s leadership, and I am excited to see it continue. I feel Scott’s vision for Saugus is very much based on the public’s desire. As a lifelong resident with children in the Saugus schools system, he is vested in the town and he cares about its long term success and its future.
“Scott has moved forward many initiatives in his fairly short tenure as town manager: economic development, investment in our public safety and equipment, DPW and related equipment, community events, community roundtables for public input, the New High School/Middle School project and a move to financial sustainability, to name several. I feel he has the unique ability to balance the needs and wants in our community with the need to continue to maintain profitability and financial success.”
Selectman Mark Mitchell
“I’m extremely pleased that we have extended our Town Manager Scott Crabtree for five years. Scott has done a tremendous job for the Town of Saugus. The progress Saugus has made in the past few years with this leadership team in place is unmatched in any period of the town’s history. We are fortunate to have someone as passionate and innovative as Scott.
“He is building for not only today but for years to come. It’s a very exciting time for Saugus, and I’m confident that this extension gives us the stability we need in this very important role. I’m looking forward to working along with Scott and our leadership team as we take Saugus to heights it has never seen before.”
“Good town managers are in demand and Scott Crabtree has worked tirelessly for Saugus. From the first day we discussed extending Scott Crabtree’s contract, I never had any doubt he was the best fit for Saugus. Scott has done an amazing job with the town’s finances. The town looks terrific.
“His commitment is obvious for all to see. No matter the subject, Scott is easy to talk to and he is always honest. I was proud and excited to offer Scott an agreement that benefits our town. He is such a great leader. Negotiating is difficult, but I found Scott very reasonable and pleasant during the process.
“To be sure, we were doing due diligence – we took time to compare other towns’ TM contracts to Scott’s. We took our time and had legal counsel look it over – to be sure all parties were protected. We thought this would be news to celebrate! We wanted a solid agreement to show the public – that showcased our thoughtfulness for Saugus and appreciation to our town manager.”
Town Manager Crabtree
“My goal has always been to create a vision for higher standards and expectations in the Town of Saugus. In working alongside the residents, Board of Selectmen, Finance Committee, Town Meeting Members, boards and commissions, and other Town officials and employees, we have helped ensure that decisions are made in the best interest of the community, and we have seen that vision become a reality.
“Everyone should be truly proud of what we have accomplished together. I would like to thank the Board of Selectmen for their continued support and leadership in helping to change the culture and vision in the town. I am extremely thankful for everyone’s hard work and dedication to this town and our vision.
“It is amazing what can be accomplished for our town when we all put our energy and efforts into working together collaboratively on common goals that are in the best interests of Saugus. I look forward to continuing to serve the Town of Saugus and its residents, continuing to create higher standards and expectations and providing our community with a continued sense of Saugus pride.”