By James Niedzinski
---- — MANCHESTER — After accepting a job offer in the private sector, the town’s Department of Public Works director, Steven Kenney has handed in his resignation to Manchester officials, effective in mid March.
Kenney’s tendering of his resignation at the end of last week effectively gives town officials 30 days notice.
While Kenney declined to disclose who he’ll be working for, he confirmed the job will be out of state and said he will be doing similar work, but the new position will allow more room for advancement.
Kenney, who previously served as DPW director in Hamilton for 11 years, started on the job in Manchester in 2007. Manchester’s tax collector and treasurer, Jennifer Yaskell, confirmed Kenney’s starting salary was approximately $99,500 and his ending annual salary is $112,575.
Interim Town Administrator Wayne Melville said Kenney’s shoes will be tough ones to fill.
He was unsure if any current DPW staff member would be able to serve as an interim director in Kenney’s departure, as certain licenses and qualifications are needed for the position.
Melville said there are many different factors to the job, from managing budgets to ensuring the town is in compliance with state Department of Environmental Protection standards, all while carrying extensive knowledge of sewer and waste water treatment. He also noted the department’s staff size has been consolidated; there were about 27 staff members about 10 years ago, Melville said. Now there are 22.
This is not the first time Kenney has announced his resignation with plans to go elsewhere. In November of 2010, he was considering taking a job in North Carolina. However, during the time when he was set to step down, the job market crashed in North Carolina and Kenney said the figures he initially received for his retirement plan were incorrect.
Melville also said the pickings for a new director were to be slim at that time, citing the need for someone experienced in public departments as well as the proper licenses that Kenney has.
Kenney said his experience in Manchester has been a positive one, noting he felt he had built a good rapport with officials and residents. The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to renew his three year contract in December 2012. Selectmen have especially applauded the work Kenney and the department did throughout the Blizzard of 2013, when the town grappled with narrow roads, power outages and water main breaks.
Kenney said the department has done great work improving water quality and the water distribution system. He said other department accomplishments include paving sections of Mill Street and roads to the transfer station at little environmental cost, as well as holding the maintaining operations with little impact to the tax payers.
Melville added he plans to talk with Kenney to see if he can stay a bit longer than the 30-day notice in order to get the town through the rest of the snow season and town meetings.
Kenney admitted his role in Manchester was sometimes hectic — but added that every DPW director has a similar role.
“Hectic goes with the territory,” he said. “It was no different than Hamilton, it’s no different in Martha’s Vineyard.”
James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at email@example.com.