OXFORD – Selectmen approved a new 15-month contract with Town Manager Mike Huston Thursday following a month of negotiations.

Huston’s pay of $900 per week will increase to $950 a week starting Jan. 1, 2004. In addition, selectmen agreed to pay all of his health insurance costs beginning May 1.

From the time Huston was hired, in February of 2002, he has paid $200 a month toward his health insurance benefits.

The pay increase brings Huston’s salary from the $46,800 he has made since he was hired, to $49,400.

“I think they made me a fair offer and I’m happy to accept it,” Huston said Tuesday.

Huston’s salary request came under fire at this year’s town meeting when he acknowledged he’d budgeted for a 7 percent salary increase. Most other town employees were budgeted for an average increase of 4.5 percent.

Resident Henry Jackson said he had researched town salary increases for various employees and found Huston’s proposed increase was 8.3 percent. Jackson said every worker should get the same raise.

Selectmen met in executive session with Huston on the salary issue at their next regular meeting, and then held a second, special executive session to continue the discussion. The salary negotiations were finalized following Thursday’s meeting.

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