Tuesday March 12, 2013

WESTMINSTER -- Town Manager Matt Daskal got his "Welcome to the Job" moment just 30 days into his tenure.

The young Connecticut native took the job in July 2011, one month before Tropical Storm Irene took an unusual path up the East Coast and make a beeline for Vermont, causing widespread damage the state had never experienced before. Just more than a year and a half later, the Westminster Selectboard has accepted Daskal's letter of resignation.

Daskal, 25, told the Reformer his final day in Westminster is set for the end of March, as he will begin his new job in Manchester on Monday, April 1. He said the selectmen accepted his resignation on Tuesday, March 5.

A statement released to the Reformer said Daskal wishes the community well and wants to thank the many people that pitched in their support and dedication during his term. According to the statement, Daskal guided the town through the response and recovery of Irene and the flooding of May 2012.

Selectboard member Craig Allen said he is happy with Daskal's performance and was impressed he was able to secure roughly $1.1 million from FEMA to reimburse the town for bridge and road repairs following the disaster.

He said brand-new Selectboard member Paul Banik will be introduced at today's Selectboard meeting and the board will talk about how to replace Daskal.


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Allen said there will be a discussion about whether to hire an interim town manager and about possibly forming a committee to appoint a permanent one. Board members also will discuss picking a new administrative assistant to the town manager, as the one under Daskal announced her resignation when she found out she was moving. The meeting is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m.

Paul Harlow, who just vacated his Selectboard seat, has seen several town managers since he joined the board in 1997 following the death of member George Cote. He said Daskal handled the job with grace, especially after Irene struck.

"He was great at it," he said. "For someone so inexperienced ... I think he did a great job."

Harlow said the Selectboard is essentially the town manager's boss and is in charge of filling the position. He said Daskal had the proper training and enthusiasm, making him by far the best candidate a year and a half ago. He told the Reformer the Selectboard requested help from the Vermont League Cities and Towns, which provided a job description and potential candidates. Daskal was chosen following an interview because he excelled at the technical aspects of the field and seemed to be good with handling financial issues.

Harlow said it is not unusual for a town manager to leave Westminster after a short time, calling it the "nature progression." He said he thinks the average tenure is about three to five years.

Daskal said his work in Manchester will be similar to what he has been doing in Westminster.

He told the Reformer he is originally from Wethersfield, Conn., and attended Connecticut College, where he double-majored in history and sociology and earned a certificate in community action. He then went on to receive a master's degree in public administration from Syracuse University before working on special projects for the Capitol Region Council of Governments in Plainville, Conn.

Daskal said he will still be available to the Westminster community for several months after assuming his new post.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.