By Bill Kirk
---- — With the impending departure of Assistant Town Manager Steve Bucuzzo, who heads to Dracut this fall as its town manager, the Board of Selectmen are taking another look at the position, hoping to add more responsibilities onto the job.
Meanwhile, the town received more than a dozen resumes last month for the newly created director of municipal services position.
While the appointing authority for both positions is Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski, selectmen met recently with the town manager and Human Resources Director Candace Hall so they could weigh in on what attributes they think the town should be looking for in filling both jobs.
Municipal services chief
A two-page job description outlines the new director of municipal services’ position, which will likely be filled from the field of interested job candidates.
Currently, Chris Cronin is serving as acting DPW director, but also leads the highway department. Ed Ataide is acting director of plant and facilities. It is not known if either applied for the top job. Their positions will be retained following the hiring of a new director.
Cronin earned about $122,000 last year. Prior to Ataide taking the plant and facilities job, the position was held by Maria Maggio, who died in July. She earned about $95,000. Cronin and Ataide were both given $10,000 stipends to serve as acting directors.
According to the job description, the new director will be in charge of highway, water treatment, water and sewer distribution, solid waste and recycling, engineering, building maintenance, plumbing/heating/electric, parks, forestry, cemetery, vehicle maintenance and facilities management.
“It’s is a very big job,” Hall said, adding that the person hired will need to merge two departments while also conducting all the usual responsibilities of both departments.
Selectmen Chairman Alex Vispoli suggested that the new director have a strong record of customer service and understand the concerns of both businesses and residents, along with budgets.
Selectman Brian Major said the next director needs to be able to break down complicated subjects, such as water quality issues, to explain them to the public in a simple, understandable way.
Selectman Paul Salafia noted that “people skills are extremely important. This is a small army of people in these departments. People don’t look at these department unless people aren’t doing their jobs.”
There are about 100 employees between the two departments.
Selectman Dan Kowalski said he wanted to see the next director “down in a hole sometimes, working with the guys he oversees” rather than a bureaucrat or number-cruncher sitting in an office.
Stapczynski said he envisions the new director as a project manager who understands how projects come together, how they are funded and how to pitch them for approval to the town manager, selectmen and Town Meeting.
The town manager agreed with Hall that the new director will have to oversee a merger of the departments.
“I always wondered why Andover had two public works departments,” he said, explaining that the new setup will resemble other towns, such as Danvers.
Stapczynski said that after the resumes are studied by a review committee, the field of candidates will be narrowed to a handful and a finalist will be chosen from there.
The process will take about six weeks. He said he expects the new municipal services director will be chosen by January.
Assistant town manager
Selectmen said with Bucuzzo’s departure, the town has the opportunity to rethink the assistant town manager’s position.
They told Hall and Stapczynski that the next assistant town manager needs to take some of the workload off the town manager.
“We need to reduce your direct reports,” Vispoli told Stapczynski, suggesting Andover Youth Services and Community Development and Planning as two departments that could be shifted to the assistant town manager. Others mentioned the Punchard (Senior) Center.
Major said the scheduling and use of town facilities could also fall to the new position.
Stapczynski said that in the past, the assistant town manager has helped him prepare materials and do background work in advance of annual Town Meeting.
Kowalski said it was important to look ahead, and to hire an assistant town manager who can take over as town manager once Stapczynski leaves.
“Hire an assistant town manager so you can put a succession plan in place for when you’re not here,” he told Stapczynski, who noted, “That’s a possibility.”
Bucuzzo, who made about $125,000 a year, is slated to leave in November. Hall said she would create a job description based on past ones for the position as well as input from selectmen and other department heads as well as the town manager.