Assistant Town Manager Steve Bucuzzo is staying in Andover after all.
Bucuzzo had been offered a job as town manager of Dracut, pending successful negotiations with the Board of Selectmen over a contract.
But after six weeks of talking, the Dracut board voted last Tuesday to terminate negotiations due to a disagreement over wording in his contract.
“I will be remaining in Andover for the foreseeable future,” Bucuzzo said in an email to The Andover Townsman.
Town Manager Reginald ‘Buzz’ Stapczynski said that while Bucuzzo was chosen by the Dracut Board of Selectmen to be their next town manager nearly two months ago, he never gave his resignation notice to Andover, just in case contract talks broke down.
The news of the breakdown in negotiations came as a shock to selectmen as well as Stapczynski, as they were already making plans for to rework the assistant town manager’s role to take some of the day-to-day responsibility of running town government off the town manager’s shoulders.
“That was a professional opportunity for him to advance in his career,” said Selectman Mary Lyman. “I was surprised it fell through.”
Selectman Paul Salafia agreed.
“I thought it was going along very well,” he said. “I was very, very shocked and surprised.”
Stapczynski said he had “mixed emotions” about Dracut’s decision to end negotiations.
“I was happy for him that he was offered the town manager’s job,” Stapczynski said. “He was appointed and given the opportunity to work there. It’s a good community and it has a good reputation. But it didn’t work out and I look forward to working with him.”
The question now, however, is whether Bucuzzo’s job will be reconfigured to address some of the issues raised by members of the Board of Selectmen over the last couple months when they thought he was leaving.
Soon after it was announced in August that Bucuzzo, of Haverhill, was heading to Dracut, members of the board said they wanted to take another look at the job, which pays about $125,000.
At a special meeting in October, the board went over the job description and provided input to Stapczynski and Human Resources Director Candace Hall about how the position should be handled in the future.
They said that Stapczynski was overworked and should have some of his duties shifted to the assistant town manager.
“We need to reduce your direct reports,” Selectman Chairman Alex Vispoli told Stapczynski, suggesting that the new assistant town manager could take over Andover Youth Services and Community Development and Planning. Other Selectmen mentioned that the new assistant could take over management of the Punchard (Senior) Center.
Yesterday, however, Vispoli appeared to back off those recommendations.
“I don’t have a comment,” Vispoli said. “It’s something we’d talk to the town manager about. It’s not something that’s been brought to our attention.”
Bucuzzo himself acknowledged that this may be a good time to take another look at the position.
“I think we have heard from the Selectmen that my position is underutilized,” Bucuzzo said. “I tend to agree with them. So I will be discussing the various possibilities and opportunities with the Town Manager over the coming months.”
Stapczynski said he would be sitting down soon with Bucuzzo.
“We’ll do that and look at what kinds of things we want to do to restructure his job and changing things around,” he said.
Selectman Mary Lyman said it might be time to take another look at the position of assistant town manager.
“It could be that the town manager is underutilizing him,” she said. “But that’s up to Buzz to figure out.”
Salafia said the situation presents an opportunity.
“If Steve can take on new responsibilities, I’m all for it,” he said. “In the big picture, this might be good for the town.”