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Stoughton Selectmen Approve Contract for New Town Manager; Extend Feaster's Contract

Stoughton Selectmen approved a three-year contract for new Stoughton Town Manager Michael Hartman. Hartman will start Dec. 17. Selectmen also extended the contract of Interim Town Manager Joseph Feaster until Dec. 28, creating a transitional period.

After a lengthy search process, the Stoughton Board of Selectmen voted unanimously, 5-0, Sept. 18 to express interest in Michael Hartman becoming Stoughton's next permanent Town Manager. A little more than a month later, after successful negotiations, Selectmen unanimously approved Hartman's contract at their Oct. 30 meeting. 

Hartman, a Canton resident, is the current Town Manager in Jaffrey, NH (2007-present). He will start in Stoughton December 17, 2012, Board of Selectmen Chair John Stagnone said.

With the contract of Interim Town Manager Joseph Feaster set to expire Nov. 30 of this year, Selectmen also unanimously voted Tuesday night to give Feaster an extension to Dec. 28, 2012. 

After Tuesday's meeting, Stagnone said the brief overlap in the two contracts is to provide the new town manager an acclimation/transition period. Stagnone pointed out that the Feaster started the municipal budget process and the municipal budget must be submitted to selectmen by the end of December, so this gives Feaster a chance to complete this.

Prior to his job in Jaffrey, Hartman worked in municipal government in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Iowa and Illinois over the last 30+ years.

Hartman's contract is for three years, with an annual salary of $135,000. Stagnone said Hartman can receive a 1-3 percent raise each year based on a performance review process. 

Hartman will receive 20 vacation days per year, some of which can be rolled over from year-to-year; one personal day per year; and 10 sick days (which can not be rolled over or bought back), Stagnone said.

He will also receive a Town vehicle or $300 per month if he uses a personal vehicle, Stagnone said.

There is no residency requirement in this contract.

The contract, which has been agreed to by both parties, is pending a physical.

"I don't anticipate any problems there," Stagnone said.

Stagnone said having a permanent Town Manager in place is going to be positive for the staff and will create a "stable environment for the next three years, if not more."

But, Stagnone added, "don't lose fact of the great job Joseph has done the last 7-8 months."

Feaster became the interim Town Manager on April 1 of this year and was sworn in on April 3, succeeding Francis T. Crimmins, Jr. Feaster was one of the final seven candidates for permanent Town Manager, but was not one of the three finalists selectmen interviewed on Sept. 13.

With Feaster's interim contract extension through Dec. 28, his salary remains a prorated $140,000.

"I'm still in the corner office and we have things to do," Feaster said after the selectmen's meeting, pointing to his continuing work with department heads on the budget process.

"I feel a lot has been done under my tenure. I hope to pass the baton on to Hartman," Feaster said.

Feaster said in his time as Interim Town Manager he has hired some "top-notch folks," including new department heads for Human Resources and Procurement, and a new secretary for the Board of Selectmen. 

"I think I'm leaving Hartman with a much stronger team," Feaster said.

"I'm more than willing to work with Hartman and after [Dec. 17] be as helpful and supportive to him as he desires."

"I've had a grand time," Feaster said of his time has Interim Town Manager. After his tenure is complete, Feaster, a Stoughton resident, said he will still be involved.  "Stay tuned, I'll be around...I'll be sitting in Cynthia Walsh's front-row seat [in the Great Hall]," he joked.

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