Town will pay outgoing manager over $79,000

Hamilton Town Manager Michael Lombardo

HAMILTON — Town Manager Michael Lombardo's last day is Thursday, April 12, as contract negotiations between him and the Board of Selectmen have stalled. 

Lombardo, who has been Hamilton's town manager since 2010, was up for contract renewal in February but asked the selectmen to revisit the terms of the agreement, selectmen Chairman Bill Wilson said.

But Lombardo and the board couldn't come to a compromise. Wilson said the two main factors were compensation and length of contract — Lombardo makes $142,882 and had a three-year term.

"After a lengthy period of negotiations, the Board of Selectmen and I having been unable to reach agreement on the terms of a new employment contract and have agreed to a separation," Lombardo said in an email. "My last day of employment with the town will be April 12."

Lombardo and Wilson said this isn't a resignation. Wilson said Lombardo isn't being fired, either.

"I just think we came to an impasse in our negotiations," Wilson said.

Police Chief Russell Stevens will likely take on the manager role until the town firms up its plans for finding Lombardo's replacement. Stevens has served in that capacity during Lombardo's vacations and more extensively in early 2017, when Lombardo was on a weekslong medical leave. 

The selectmen are expected to meet before Saturday's Town Meeting to devise a plan. Wilson said this could mean hiring an interim town manager other than Stevens while the town conducts a wider search for a permanent replacement.

Calls requesting comment from other selectmen were not immediately returned Tuesday.

Hamilton had a population of 7,764 during the 2010 census and has a roughly $29 million operating budget for the current fiscal year. 

Lombardo assumed the position of town manager — Hamilton's first — in May 2010. Months earlier, in September 2009, the town had voted to change its form of government from a town administrator and a board of three selectmen to a manager with five selectmen.

The board gave Lombardo his annual review about a month ago, Wilson said. Since then, the board and Lombardo have met privately in executive session — closed to the public for personnel reasons. One of those meetings went until about 3 a.m.

"We were heavily into discussions," Wilson said.

This year, a group mounted a citizens' petition on Hamilton's Town Meeting warrant to discuss lowering Lombardo's salary by 20 percent, and a vote to do that would have essentially been a vote of no confidence. But Wilson said Lombardo's departure has nothing to do with the petition.

"This isn't really a result of the citizens' petition," he said, noting that he couldn't get into specifics until the minutes of the executive session meetings are released.

Jack Lawrence, one of the residents behind the petition, said he and others wanted residents to carefully consider their government and if they're satisfied with Lombardo's performance. 

Wilson said he expects to speak with Lawrence about the best way to deal with the petition at Town Meeting on Saturday, April 7. 

"It's regrettable," Wilson said of the outcome of the negotiations.

Arianna MacNeill can be reached at 978-338-2527 or at amacneill@salemnews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SN_AMacNeill. 

Area town administrator/managers compensation, term lengths

Town Administrator/manager Salary Length of term

Danvers Town Manager Steve Bartha $196,138* five-year term

Wenham Town Administrator Peter Lombardi $132,000 three-year term**

Ipswich Former Town Manager Robin Crosbie*** $165,000 three-year term

Swampscott Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald $129,800 three-year term

* $183,306 base salary, plus $5,500 car allowance and $7,332 for a retirement savings plan

** As of new term beginning July 1

*** Anthony Marino recently named new manager and will start April 23

Sources: Town of Danvers town manager salary study, Wenham Board of Selectmen minutes

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