By Bill Kirk
---- — Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski has too many people reporting to him, works too many hours and needs help.
That’s what members of the Board of Selectmen are saying after it was announced last week that his second-in-command, Assistant Town Manager Steve Bucuzzo, appears poised to accept the town manager’s job in Dracut.
“We see the town manager as stretched,” Selectman Mary Lyman said. “We have high expectations moving forward to make the assistant town manager’s position more effective for the town.”
Selectman Paul Salafia said the way the position is currently utilized, there’s still too much work falling on the town manager.
“We have selectmen’s meetings until 9 or 10 at night, and he’s up the next day for a 7:30 a.m. meeting,” Salafia said of Stapczynski. “He works very, very hard. Our expectations for the town manager have expanded. He needs good, solid, professional help.
“This is a good opportunity for us to look at the position to make sure he can meet all the goals we have set for him.”
Selectman Brian Major said that when Bucuzzo was hired in June 2001, the position had been upgraded from administrative assistant to assistant town manager.
“We upgraded it to take some additional responsibilities off Buzz’s plate,” he said. “This is a chance for us to do a sanity check. Is it still necessary? Is this the best way to utilize that resource?”
Selectman Dan Kowalski said Bucuzzo’s departure will give Stapczynski a chance to step back and assess town operations and the delineation of responsibilities.
“It’s a great opportunity for us, to allow Buzz to look at the organization of the town and potentially reorganize,” he said. “Buzz has 18 direct reports (of town employees) right now, maybe that will change. I personally think that’s too many.”
Stapczynski said the assistant town manager’s position is vital to the functioning of Town Hall. He will appoint Bucuzzo’s replacement, subject to selectmen’s approval.
“I need a high-level, right-hand assistant with the background and experience to provide assistance with all manner of things, like collective bargaining and capital planning,” Stapczynski said. “It will stay at a high level. The question is, what additional responsibilities can I put on the person to assist me with the number of reports I have? It may morph into a different range of responsibilities.”
Salafia said this may also be a chance to save money. Bucuzzo, who is scheduled to leave by November, currently earns about $125,000 a year.
“This is going to be on the agenda, to look at the position and see if it needs to be tweaked in any way,” he said. “It’s a very important position. This town has grown immensely. Our expectations for town manager have expanded.”
Bucuzzo, 49, was picked on a 4-0 vote by the Dracut Board of Selectmen during an Aug. 27 meeting. The terms of his contract are still being negotiated with Dracut. He will succeed Dennis Piendak, who is retiring in November after 26 years on the job.
Before coming to Andover, Bucuzzo had served as town administrator in Rockport. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Northeastern University in Boston and a bachelor’s in political science from UMass Lowell.
After graduating from college, Bucuzzo worked as budget and management assistant for the town of Wellesley. He also was a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army Airborne Infantry.
Selectmen Chairman Alex Vispoli, who worked with Bucuzzo for nine of his years in Andover, said he was happy for him.
“It’s a good fit for Steve and a good fit for Dracut,” he said. “He’s a Merrimack Valley resident and he understands the Merrimack Valley. He’s done a lot here in Andover in all facets of the town.
“He has a real solid understanding and track record of working well in the type of town government model that is in place in Dracut, which is the same as Andover — five selectmen, town manager and an open Town Meeting from of government.”
Kowalski also offered his support to Bucuzzo.
“It’s a good opportunity for Steve to shine ... and for people to see his true potential,” Kowalski said.