Lenox imposes hiring/spending freezes, furloughs to keep finances in check amid pandemic

Christopher Ketchen will remain the shared chief administrative officer of Lee and Lenox under a new three-year contract approved this week by both towns’ select boards.

LENOX — After more than three years as chief administrative officer of Lee and Lenox, Christopher Ketchen has a new three-year personal services contract signed by the Select Board, including another three years as the top executive.

The contract was first discussed in an Oct. 21 executive session without Ketchen present because it involved his employment.

During the Select Board meeting Wednesday, the members and Ketchen discussed the provisions of the new contract and the changes from the previous contract and intermunicipal agreement signed in 2017. The Lee Select Board approved the measure on Thursday.

Among highlights of the new contract:

• Ketchen, as town manager of Lenox, also serves as town administrator of Lee under the title chief administrative officer.

• The new intermunicipal agreement has no defined end date, so the CAO also has an individual three-year contract with Lenox, since only one town can serve as the formal employer.

• The two towns share the cost of Ketchen’s compensation, which starts at $125,500 for the first year, increasing by 2.5 percent for the second year to $128,638 and the same rate of increase for the third year, to $131,854. There’s also a 6 percent deferred compensation allowance for retirement, a $225 per month travel stipend and four weeks paid vacation.

• On 60 days’ notice, with proper notification, the intermunicipal agreement can be terminated either by the Lee Select Board, the Lenox Select Board or by Ketchen. In that case, he would revert to town manager of Lenox, the position he was hired for in 2014, at a salary of $112,750 in the first year, rising to $115,570 in fiscal 2022 and $118,460 in fiscal 2023.

“We’re tickled to death that you’re doing it,” Selectman Edward Lane said. “We bumped you up a little bit in pay, but you’re doing two towns with a budget of $50 million between the two, at least, with 10,000 people. It’s a big, big job. You’re been doing such a great job; we trust you, you’ve earned it and deserve it. You took on a big challenge here, a lot of pressure, you pulled it off in great fashion.”

Lane noted that the two-town intermunicipal CAO agreement is the first of its kind in the state.

The board then voted unanimously to approve the personal services agreement as chief administrative officer and town manager.

“I’m extremely satisfied with the structure of the agreement,” Ketchen said.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com, on Twitter

@BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.