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Abington town manager threatens to sue for severance

In 2009, Mansfield did not renew John D’Agostino’s contract as town manager but paid his salary in full .

Sonja Wallgren for The Boston Globe/File 2009

In 2009, Mansfield did not renew John D’Agostino’s contract as town manager but paid his salary in full .

ABINGTON — Abington’s outgoing town manager is threatening to sue the town, saying the Board of Selectmen is trying to avoid giving him the severance pay stipulated in his employment contract.

John D’Agostino, whose contract expires on April 23, contends the board is citing “nonfeasance” as the reason for not paying him severance — specifically that he “couldn’t get along with the people on boards and committees” — an assertion he disputes.

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The board met in executive session for nearly two hours last Thursday to discuss the potential litigation. The meeting was called in response to a letter from D’Agostino’s lawyer, Robert Hennigan, in which the town manager threatens to take legal action if the town does not give him the severance pay called for in the employment contract.

None of the board members returned phone calls or e-mails seeking comment.

D’Agostino’s contract entitles him to three months’ severance pay if the town elects not to renew it. The contract also lists reasons that would negate its responsibility to pay D’Agostino the severance pay, among them nonfeasance, or failure to perform an act as required by law.

The troubles between D’Agostino and selectmen have been brewing for more than a year, but boiled over in April 2012 when the board learned he had applied for a city manager opening in Key West, Fla. His contract stipulates that he will not actively seek another job without notifying the board. Then, following a budget dispute in May 2012, the town’s board of assessors unanimously approved a vote of no confidence in D’Agostino.  

In November 2012, citing reasons of nonfeasance related to D’Agostino’s job search, the Board of Selectmen voted 3-2 not to renew his contract.

“You could see the train coming down the track,” D’Agostino said. “What I didn’t expect was that they’d smear my character professionally and personally” by asserting D’Agostino failed to do his job.

D’Agostino said by his estimation he has done well as town manager. When he began working in Abington in 2010, the town had roughly $1,000 in its “rainy day” fund. Today that account contains more than $1 million.  

“If I were working in private industry and had managed a company the way I’ve managed this town financially, I’d be getting a raise” said D’Agostino, who previously worked as town manager in Mansfield for nearly 12 years.

In 2009, Mansfield did not renew D’Agostino’s contract and allowed him to leave with five months left on his contract with full salary in a settlement to avoid litigation.  

Jim Morrison can be reached at jamesandrewmorrison@
gmail.com
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