DRACUT -- The Board of Selectmen voted Monday night to appoint Ann Vandal as interim town manager to succeed Dennis Piendak when he retires next week.
Vandal, the town's finance director/treasurer/assessor, will earn a salary of $120,000 during her stint as interim town manager and will return to her current salary when the board hires a permanent replacement for Piendak. The board voted last week to advertise the permanent town-manager opening at a starting annual salary of $135,000.
Selectmen voted 4-0 to appoint Vandal with Selectman Bob Cox not in attendance.
"It felt good to know that (Assistant Town Manager) Glen (Edwards) would be there to assist you and walk you through the process," Selectmen Chairwoman Cathy Richardson told Vandal, who was in attendance Monday night. "You have all of our help and the commitment of other people at Town Hall."
Vandal was recently a finalist for the vacant executive assistant position in Hudson, losing out to Lowell Chief Financial Officer Thomas Moses when that town's Board of Selectmen made its appointment last week.
"Ann seems like the perfect fit for the town. I don't think we'll miss a beat," said Selectman Joe DiRocco. "We're fortunate. Hudson's loss is our gain. It will be business as usual."
Vandal told the board, "I appreciate the confidence and support you've shown and I'll do my best for you. I take this seriously. I don't take it lightly."
Richardson said last week the board will task the Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management recruitment firm with attracting a pool of qualified job candidates by a target date of Dec. 15. Information on the names and backgrounds of the field of candidates will then be presented by the Collins Center to a local town-manager screening committee, whose assignment will be to narrow the field to a handful of finalists.
Members of the Dracut Town Manager Screening Committee that presented selectmen with four finalists that included Andover Assistant Town Manager Steven Bucuzzo -- the board's former top choice to become new town manager -- will likely be invited to reprise their roles on their committee.
Selectmen emerged from an hourlong executive session on Oct. 22 to announce they had voted 4-0 to formally end negotiations with Bucuzzo, after both sides failed to reach a satisfactory employment agreement after "many meetings" over a period of months, Richardson announced.
Bucuzzo and Richardson both cited language in the town's charter as a stumbling block in negotiating a contract, specifically the charter's requirement that Dracut town managers serve with no set length of contract at the will of the board.
Selectmen took their vote Monday night prior to the start of Town Meeting.