DRACUT -- Selectmen and James Duggan, the board's choice to become the next town manager, reached an employment agreement in a single closed-door negotiating session Tuesday night, selectmen said.
"We've reached an agreement. We're just waiting to get it all written up, and both sides have to agree to what's written," said Selectmen Vice Chairman Joe DiRocco. "But all of the issues have been addressed. He's accepted it, and we're happy with it."
Chairwoman Cathy Richardson confirmed successful negotiations were held Tuesday between selectmen and Duggan, a Lowell native who has been Gloucester's chief administrative officer since 2008, but cautioned that Duggan still needed to sign the agreement to make his hiring official.
DiRocco said the board's "three-year agreement" with Duggan contains terms of employment similar to the year-to-year agreement the board had with former 27-year Town Manager Dennis Piendak.
"Dennis had an original contract, and within that it said if we did not (draw up) a different contract this one stays in effect," DiRocco said. "There's no guarantee of three years. It's an agreement for three years. He serves at the will of the board, which could fire him. But if he's doing his job, that's highly unlikely. There's no fear of it. For Dennis, that same contract stayed in effect for 27 years."
The board is scheduled to meet with Duggan in Dracut again on Tuesday to allow him to read over and possibly sign the employment agreement before its regular meeting is held, DiRocco said.
If all goes well, the board will be able to formally announce Duggan's hiring and choose a start date for him to take the reins from interim Town Manager Ann Vandal, Richardson said. Vandal, the town's finance director, has served dual roles at Town Hall since November, when Piendak retired.
The speed with which the board reached an apparent employment agreement with Duggan -- within a week of offering him the job -- starkly contrasted with the two months of failed negotiations selectmen held with their previous top choice to become the next town manager, Steven Bucuzzo, Andover's assistant town manager.
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