By Bill Kirk
---- — ANDOVER — Assistant Town Manager Steve Bucuzzo will not be the new town manager of Dracut after all, it was revealed this week.
The Dracut Board of Selectmen voted Tuesday night to discontinue negotiations with Bucuzzo 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 Eagle-Tribune.
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.
Which they did.
The Dracut Board of Selectmen named Bucuzzo as their next town manager on Aug. 27 in a 4-0 vote. He was to replace Dennis Piendak, town manager for the last 26 years, who is retiring Nov. 15.
However, negotiations dragged on for weeks. Bucuzzo, in a recent interview with The Eagle-Tribune, said part of the problem was that Dracut had never inked a formal agreement with Piendak. Instead, his employment was governed by the town charter, which stated, among other things, that the town manager would serve “without term.”
Most modern town manager contracts now carry very specific provisions about the length of the contract, the salaries involved, the duties, and other provisions that protect both the employee and the town.
Bucuzzo would not comment this week to The Eagle-Tribune about what transpired, and members of the Dracut Board of Selectmen said they couldn’t speak about it, either.
But in a statement Bucuzzo emailed Wednesday to the Lowell Sun, he said he was “very disappointed to receive the news last (Tuesday) night. Obviously I was hoping for a different outcome, but I must respect their decision. Both parties put forth sincere efforts to negotiate a mutually acceptable contract during several meetings over the past six weeks or so.”
He said the sticking point was the Dracut town charter.
“Unfortunately, in the end we were unable to reach agreement on some key terms of employment, in large part because of limitations placed on the parties by the current Charter,” he said. “That is all that really needs to be said.”
Andover selectmen, meanwhile, said they were “shocked” and “surprised” by the turn of events.
“That was a professional opportunity for him to advance in his career,” said Selectman Mary Lyman. “I was surprised it fell through.”
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.
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.”