Lenox town manager deal almost done


LENOX - A deal to bring aboard Steve Bartha, the designated new town manager, could be sealed during a special Select Board meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

During contract negotiations, no significant hitches developed, according to Select Board Chairman David Roche. Bartha, 32, is assistant town manager of Avon, Conn. Bartha received a conditional offer on Aug. 7.

Bartha, the choice among three finalists and 60 applicants for the Lenox position, visited the town for a meetand- greet tour last Thursday and a welcome dinner with Roche.

Eager to put his management pedal to the metal, Bartha is expected to formally begin work in Town Hall in early to mid-October.

"Steve seems pretty well set," Roche said. " Negotiations have been going very well. It's like acquiring a baseball player, some give and some take before putting it all together."

The final deal "can be put to bed real quick," he added, with a salary agreement in place, and details being completed on vacation time, severance pay and a few days off when Bartha's first child is born in November.

"He can't wait to move here," Roche said. "He has a year to do it, and his wife is staying in Avon - until the baby is born."

Under the town charter, a town manager is required to move into Lenox within 12 months of the appointment; other provisions govern secondary contract details.

Roche said the Select Board has compared what Bartha is seeking to former Town Manager Gregory Federspiel's package and is keeping the agreement within those parameters. The contract will become a public document once it's signed by both sides.

At Municipal Resources Inc., the Meredith, N.H., firm hired to coordinate the search and help negotiate the contract, company President Donald Jutton agreed on Monday that "we don't see anything that's a deal killer, and we hope to conclude the contract by week's end."

"We've got a candidate who wants to be there," Jutton said. "The challenge is to put his house in Avon on the market and sell it, but the family's intention is very clearly to work and to play in Lenox. There's no reticence at all."

According to Jutton, town officials in Avon are "very supportive" of Bartha's career move. "He's incredibly highly regarded there, with glowing references."

In such situations, Jutton added, "there's usually a transition, with one foot where you came from, while where you're going is a learning curve. His heart has shifted already, his mind will soon follow."

Bartha is " really excited about the community, he's got all the enthusiasm and energy that comes with being a young guy," Jutton said. "He has a feeling of serendipity, a quality of life awaiting him at the right time. Clearly, he's the right stuff for the town of Lenox."

Bartha was unavailable for comment Monday.


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