DRACUT — Town Manager James Duggan received generally high marks from individual members of the Board of Selectmen during his annual performance evaluation earlier this week.
Duggan’s overall score, computed based on the average of total scores from each board member, was 3.75 on a scale of 1 through 5, said Selectmen Chairman Jesse Forcier, who compiled individual evaluations done by his four colleagues.
Scoring Duggan the highest were Forcier and Selectmen Tony Archinski and Alison Hughes.
Selectmen Joseph DiRocco and Tami Dristiliaris, who generally complain the most about Duggan, scored him the lowest.
Each selectman rated Duggan by responding to questions in six areas of competency: personal and professional; board support and relations; financial management; personnel management and organizational leadership; community leadership and public relations; and town operations and infrastructure.
He received his highest rating, 4.20, for his performance on town operations and infrastructure. His lowest rating was 3.45 in the personal and professional category.
At the board’s Tuesday night meeting, selectmen spoke about improvements they have seen in the last year.
“I considered your leadership to be an improvement from last time,” Forcier said.
“You made a lot of changes at first,” Forcier said. Some of those changes caused some upset.
“Admittedly, you were a bull in a china shop,” he said, and then he hastily clarified that Duggan had described himself that way.
“But there’s a good feeling in the community now,” he added. Forcier gave Duggan an overall rating of 4.0.
Selectman Tony Archinski said that he consistently gave Duggan “above satisfactory” scores in each category. Noting his own involvement in labor unions, Archinski did ask Duggan “to realize that unions are not the enemy.”
Archinski concluded, however, “There is no one who promotes this town better.” He added, “Keep letting them know that Dracut is open for business.” Archinski gave the town manager a rating of 4.45.
Economic development in the mostly rural town has been a hallmark of Duggan’s administration. In May, for example, Jay Ash, then the state’s top economic development official, toured the community as Duggan highlighted The Arbors at Dracut, a multi-million dollar assisted living facility at 21 Broadway Road. Improvements were made to the intersection of Broadway and Loon Hill Road — the result of a $2.5 million MassWorks grant the town received from the state. Lowell General Hospital has also opened a satellite campus in town.
Board member Alison Hughes concurred, with Archinski. “He’s a great champion of the town,” she said, adding she’s heard favorable comments from residents on seeing the town manager shopping in town.
Hughes also has had feedback from residents about pleasant experiences dealing with town hall employees. Hughes gave Duggan a 4.58, the highest rating.
DiRocco gave Duggan an overall score of 2.67, the lowest of all board members.
“I still have a problem with personnel style,” he said. He noted, however, that he gave Duggan a score slightly higher than in the past.
Dristiliaris echoed a similar sentiment, and gave Duggan a score of 3.0. She noted that since Duggan hired a human resources director, “I’ve definitely seen an improvement.”
For his part, Duggan said, “My wife and I love Dracut. This board really cares, passionately cares, about this community.”
He added, “People who work for the town are outstanding.”
The board will consider Duggan’s compensation at its next meeting. He received a raise in 2017 that brought his salary to $170,000 annually.