EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

July 11, 2014

Town vehicle policy overheats in Andover

Municipal services director's contract sparks debate

ANDOVER — A deal struck between the town manager and the new director of the Department of Municipal Services has sparked a controversy over the deployment of town vehicles.

Selectman Alex Vispoli wants his board to tighten rules on how town cars are doled out to department heads after Town Manager Reginald “Buzz” Stapczynski gave a 2008, high-mileage Ford Escape to Chris Cronin, the newly appointed municipal services director, as part of his compensation package.

Vispoli claims that initially, when the Department of Municipal Services was reorganized, Cronin, as the new director of the department, was not going to get a car.

Cronin’s predecessors had town cars that they could use to commute to and from work and also during the work day and Cronin himself had been issued one in his capacity as acting director for two years.

Vispoli said when the contract with Cronin was finalized, the town manager changed his mind without telling anyone and included a car in the deal.

“This was a surprise,” Vispoli said. “The position changed and he told us he changed his mind. I am suggesting the board re-look at the town car policy and strengthen it ... so that any future vehicle that is proposed to be provided for someone’s commute go before the board.”

Selectmen on Monday night seemed inclined to agree, but put off a decision until the next board meeting later this month so that the wording of the town car policy can be updated.

Cronin, who lives in New Hampshire, said when he negotiated with Stapczynski on his new contract, he asked for a town car.

“We discussed it for a while,” he said. “I wanted to keep one. We did survey other (public facilities) directors around the state. It’s not like I was the only one. So I thought it should be part of my compensation and he (Stapczynski) agreed.”

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