Local Government and Politics, News

Saugus manages to re-sign Crabtree

SAUGUS — Scott Crabtree will manage the town for five more years.

“It is a great honor and privilege to be able to continue to serve the residents of Saugus as town manager in the town I grew up in and now raise my family in,” said Crabtree. “My goal has always been to create a vision for higher standards and expectations in the Town of Saugus.”

The Saugus Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to extend Crabtree’s contract to August 2022, earlier this week. Details of the contract, which has not yet been drafted, will be ironed out and executed with Town Counsel John Vasapolli in the coming weeks.

At the end of his contract, Crabtree will be the longest-serving town manager in the town’s history, he confirmed.

According to the town’s charter, Saugus’ form of government changed to include a town manager, appointed by selectmen, in 1947. Since then, a long string of short-term managers have filled the role. The longest serving manager in the town’s history is currently former manager Andrew Bisignani, who held the title for almost nine years. He later pled guilty to charges of fraud, municipal bid rigging, and destroying public records that stemmed from his time in Saugus and Nahant.

Citing Crabtree’s wide-range of efforts to enhance the town, including his advocacy for a new middle-high school, his pursuit of grant funding to improve town facilities, and his vision to invest in parks and playgrounds, selectmen said the decision to keep him around was a no-brainer.

“Saugus is experiencing a renaissance with Scott Crabtree at the helm,” said Selectman Jenn D’Eon. “Many people left town. They had given up hope of a new high school. Now it’s on the horizon. Scott Crabtree worked tirelessly with the school department to make that a reality. He works countless hours. (He) has raised our bond rating, delivered us three new parks, and there is a new high/school middle school on the way.”

Selectmen Jeff Cicolini and Debra Panetta both spoke to the importance of the town’s increased bond rating to AA+ in 2016. The four-level jump will save taxpayers an estimated $7.2 million in borrowing for the ongoing new middle-high school project.

Serving as town counsel, Vasapolli has worked with nine managers over 36 years. He said it was rare to see a town manager granted a second five-year contract.

“His list of accomplishments clearly justify why the selectmen would give him this contract,” said Vasapolli. “If you compare his accomplishments to others, it speaks for itself. I think they made the right decision. You can see how much public support this manager has.”

“The consistency is key because turnover at the manager position can sometimes lead to turnover at other key positions,” said Cicolini. “The fact that Scott has a proven track record of under promising and over delivering coupled with a conservative financial attitude has led us to unparalleled financial stability in Saugus, which is something that is critical for us to see continue.”

Panetta added that Crabtree has brought unity within the departments and he ensures the town government is accountable and transparent.

“I think the town is working well,” she said. “All of the departments are working well together for the common good of the town. As long as you’re always thinking about what’s best for Saugus residents, you can’t make a mistake. And I truly believe the town manager is always looking out for the best interest of Saugus.”

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