South

Abington

Officials restore severance for D’Agostino

Mansfiled's longtime Town Manager John D'Agostino
Sonja Wallgren
Mansfiled's longtime Town Manager John D'Agostino

After a five-month-long dispute with former town manager John D’Agostino over his severance package, the Abington Board of Selectmen has voted to grant D’Agostino three months’ pay after the end of his tenure.

In January, D’Agostino threatened to sue to town, saying the board was trying to avoid paying his severance package after a 3-2 vote not to renew his contract due to “nonfeasance.”

Under the pact he signed with the board in 2010, D’Agostino is entitled to severance pay if his contract is not renewed, but exceptions such as nonfeasance would void the board’s responsibility to pay him the extra money.

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Instead of engaging in a legal battle, the board rescinded its vote, which restored D’Agostino’s right to 90 days of severance pay. D’Agostino, whose contract expired on April 23, was paid about $120,000 yearly.

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Selectman Kevin Donovan said the board cited nonfeasance, or failure to perform legal duties, because D’Agostino “had failed to act in harmony with members of other town committees.”

Though Donovan declined to go into further detail, he said, “There’s a whole host of items I could point to” regarding tensions between D’Agostino and other town committee members.

In a phone interview last week, D’Agostino took issue with Donovan’s assertion.

“I’ve always gotten along with the other committees in town. I’ve given Abington three years of what I believe to be good service. There wasn’t anything I was obligated to do that I failed to do,” he said. “I suspect the selectmen board was just looking for a reason not to renew my contract.”

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Donovan said the vote not to renew D’Agostino’s contract “was made on solid ground.”

There was talk in town that the Board of Selectmen decided not to renew the contract because D’Agostino had applied for a city manager position in Key West, Fla., in April 2012 without informing the board — an action that would breach the terms of his contract.

However, both D’Agostino and Andrew Burbine, the board’s chairman, said that was not true.

“I did apply for a position, but I informed the board in an e-mail and a phone call,” D’Agostino said.

Burbine confirmed D’Agostino’s statement. “The fact that he applied for another position didn’t have anything to do with why we decided not to renew his contract,” he said.

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D’Agostino’s last work day was Friday. New Town Manager Richard LaFond will be paid $140,000 annually, about $20,000 more than D’Agostino made in the job.

Emily O’Donnell can be reached at emily.odonn@­gmail.com.