LENOX – The Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to enter into negations with Steve Bartha to become the town’s next town manager.
Bartha, 32, is currently the assistant town manager of Avon, Conn. a position he has held since 2010.
“I think that Steve is by far the best candidate,” said Chairman David Roche.
Bartha beat out Barry Dykhuizen who is currently the city manager of Guttenberg, Iowa, and Jonathan Sistare, an attorney in private practice who was the town manager of Salem and Jaffrey N.H.
Donald Jutton, president of Municipal Resources Inc. (MRI) the firm hired by the town to handle the search, will now conduct an extended background check and then begin contract negations.
Jutton, working with a citizen’s panel, trimmed through the nearly 60 original applicants, 24 of which had previous management experience to generate the final six that came to Lenox last weekend.
The negations will be ongoing over the coming weeks as the sides look to settle on a salary and other details. That salary could reach $115,000 a year, based on former Town Manager Gregory Federspiel’s salary.
During their deliberations several member of the select board mentioned how much they valued Bartha’s knowledge of economic development.
“Economic development is a messy process, there is no one size fits all,” Bartha said during the interviews. “Lenox has assets, and you can’t overstate the importance of a good school system in economic development.”
Members of the board also expressed the importance of Bartha’s upbringing in a small town. He is from Petoskey, Mich., a tourism based community of 5,600.
“I like that he is from a small town and understands those issues,” said selectman Channing Gibson.
Bartha explained to the board that he would hope to be on the job within 30 to 60 days of being offered the job during the interviews.
“I have talked to Don (Jutton) and he doesn’t expect there to be any issues during the negotations,” said Roche.