By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — It’s business as usual at the town municipal center with one exception — the town’s top administrator is under investigation by the New Hampshire State Police.
Town Administrator John Anderson was placed on paid administrative leave late Friday, pending the outcome of that investigation. That means Anderson will continue to collect his salary of nearly $125,000.
The Town Council met in an emergency nonpublic session for about 45 minutes that day and unanimously passed three resolutions, all about Anderson.
The first was to put Anderson on leave. The second was to appoint Larry Budreau, human resources director and assistant town administrator, as acting town administrator. The third resolution was to appoint Budreau as the “sole spokesperson for the town of Derry” regarding Anderson’s situation.
“Certain allegations involving the town administrator have been brought to the town’s attention,” Budreau said after the meeting. “These allegations do not involve the town. The matter has been referred to the New Hampshire State Police for further investigation and Mr. Anderson has been placed on administrative leave with pay under the provisions of the charter until that investigation is complete.”
This week, Budreau said Anderson will remain on paid leave until further notice.
“His status will change only after the state police investigation is complete and the Town Council has the opportunity to evaluate the information and make a decision,” he said Tuesday.
Budreau wouldn’t specify when town officials first learned of the investigation, nor when Anderson was notified. Last week, Budreau said Anderson worked “a portion” of the day Friday.
Anderson, 50, came to Derry in October 2010, from a similar position in Boothbay, Maine. He was one of 121 applicants for the Derry job.
He was hired at just over $100,000 a year when he accepted the post. His current salary is $124,962 and his contract is up for review this October.
The administrative leave took effect immediately. Anderson was not at the emergency council meeting.
Budreau, who has worked for the town for seven and a half years, was named assistant town administrator in October 2011. Prior to the council creating that position, Budreau had served as acting administrator in Anderson’s absence — and in prior administrations.
Asked whether the investigation was criminal in nature, Budreau declined to comment. But state police only investigate crime.
“The state police are involved because the Derry police Chief (Edward Garone) determined that he would have the appearance of a conflict of interest because he is subordinate to the town administrator,” Budreau said.
But Budreau didn’t say how the Town Council became aware of the investigation, nor whether a complaint was brought to the council or to Derry police.
All seven members of the Town Council were present for the emergency meeting last week. When they emerged from the meeting room, all declined comment, referring all questions to Budreau.
Councilor Phyllis Katsakiores, who has missed the last four or five meetings due to health issues, was there Friday, using a wheelchair. Kasakiores has participated in previous meetings by phone, but made her first appearance in more than a month for the meeting about Anderson.
Anderson ruffled a lot of feathers earlier this year when he proposed closing East Derry’s beloved Taylor Library to save the town $176,000. Public outcry was swift and furious. Councilors voted down Anderson’s proposal.
Shortly thereafter, Anderson annoyed some others in town when he balked at a suggestion the Derry Farmers Market funding be cut dramatically. That budget was ultimately cut by about 75 percent.
Budreau reiterated it was “business as usual” at the municipal center this week.
“I will be performing the duties of town administrator in an acting capacity until further notice from the Town Council,” he said. “I do not anticipate any disruption of these functions or services.”
Budreau said since state police are handling the investigation, they should be the only ones to comment on those details.
“I am sure they will do so in due time,” he said.
But N.H. State Police have not returned several requests for comment.
Budreau reinforced his previous statement that none of the allegations involving Anderson involved town business and the town can have no further comment on them until the investigation is complete.
“This is in order to protect the integrity of the investigation and Mr. Anderson’s rights as a citizen,” he said.