Acting on a unanimous recommendation by a special, three-member negotiating committee, the council agreed to name Branyan town manager and pay him the same salary as Feeney: 84,500. Branyan, who recently reached an agreement with the negotiating committee to replace Feeney, is likely to be Stratford?\u2019s last town manager as the town switches to a mayoral form of government in November 2005. Branyan will serve out the remaining 18 months of Feeney?\u2019s three-year contract. Feeney will leave Friday to join the staff of Bridgeport Mayor John M. Fabrizi Monday. "It?\u2019s exciting, thrilling and an honor to be named to this post," said Branyan, 27, who as assistant town manager earned $62,600. "I have come to love the community, the staff and expect a smooth transition because I have been working with Mike (Feeney) for two years now." Town Council Chairman Joseph Crudo, R-at large, said the selection of Branyan was a "no-brainer." "It?\u2019s a marriage made in heaven," said Crudo. "We need a town manager and Ben has been working closely with Mike (Feeney) for two years now. It?\u2019s also a job Ben very much wants and his emphasis will be on improving customer service with residents, and with his friendly demeanor that should be easily accomplished." Council member Michael Henrick, R-10, chairman of the negotiating committee, said the panel was able to conclude negotiations with Branyan very quickly and with a strong feeling he was the best and only choice for the job. "He has done an outstanding job as assistant town manager, knows Stratford extremely well and has strong leadership abilities," said Henrick. The other committee members, council Minority Leader Ray Voccola, D-5, and Councilwoman Jennifer Hillgen, R-1, agreed Branyan was the best choice and is particularly good at dealing with the public. "He can step in and not miss a beat," said Voccola. "He?\u2019s a bright young man." Branyan also said he would be interested in serving as the mayor?\u2019s administrative aide when the town government changes. Several residents strongly supported the council?\u2019s choice to name Branyan the town manager. "Mike (Feeney) had one step out the door as soon as the town voted to change to a mayoral form of government," said one longtime resident who asked not to be identified. "Ben really wants this job and that makes all the difference in the world." Feeney recently accepted the post of director of mayoral initiatives for Fabrizi. Feeney said he decided to leave because of the voters?\u2019 decision to change from a town manager to mayoral form of government.