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Finance Chief Leaving New Canaan for Westport

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Just as preparations for the 2012-13 budget season begin, New Canaan is losing its main financial man. Finance Director Gary Conrad is leaving for a similar job in Westport.

Conrad, a town employee for more than 17 years, informed First Selectman Robert Mallozzi III of his plans to leave his New Canaan post before Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting.

Mallozzi, in the early stages of his term as the town’s top officer, said Conrad’s news caught him by surprise. Conrad told him it was a good opportunity and said it had nothing to do with the new administration. “I was stunned, but I completely understood,” Mallozzi said late Tuesday. “You want to keep on reaching higher and in his estimation, that’s where he wants to be right now.”

Conrad’s annual salary in New Canaan is $137,000. He will leave in two weeks but has offered to consult with New Canaan on the 2012-13 fiscal year budget and with negotiations with the New Canaan Police Officers’ union. Mallozzi said he’s not sure whether he’ll take up Conrad on that proposal but said, “It was nice of him to offer it.”

Mallozzi said New Canaan is fortunate to have hired Jennifer Charneski as the town’s budget director. The position was created to assist the finance officer with budget work.  “(Charneski) and I work together closely, and we’re going to be consumed with budget work for the next three to four months,” Mallozzi said. “Luckily with Gary leaving, we have someone with institutional knowledge.”

Mallozzi said he doesn’t expect to have Conrad’s successor on board until May or June.

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