Westport has hired the town of New Canaan's chief fiscal officer as its next finance director, First Selectman Gordon Joseloff announced Tuesday.

Gary Conrad, who held the top fiscal post in New Canaan since 1994, will succeed Westport's current finance director, John Kondub, who is set to retire next month.

"Gary Conrad brings to Westport a wealth of experience in both the municipal and private sector," Joseloff said in a statement. "He is an accomplished financial executive with proven leadership, negotiation, organizational and planning skills that will serve Westport well."

Conrad's salary was not immediately disclosed, but Kondub was paid $117,000 in 2010.

New Canaan First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said Conrad's departure, "caught me a little off guard, but it was his decision."

Mallozzi added, however, "To his credit, (Conrad) did tell me he is available to help us in any way we might need.

"But the important thing is what's at hand and that is the budget," he added. "We will continue to be diligent about that while we develop the right job description to find Gary's replacement."

Conrad was among a group of finalists recommended to Joseloff by a bipartisan search committee led by board Vice Chairwoman Helen Garten. Conrad is expected to join Joseloff's administration staff later this month, the Westport first selectman added.

Before his stint in New Canaan, Conrad worked at AMAX Inc., a worldwide producer of metals and energy, serving most recently as manager of financial planning and analysis with its Climax Metals subsidiary in Norwalk.

A resident of Fairfield, Conrad attended the University of New Haven's executive MBA program and holds a B.S. in accounting from the University of Bridgeport.

Kondub, a 35-year town employee, had served as Westport's finance director since the death in February 2008 of his predecessor, Donald Miklus.

"We are deeply grateful for John's years of service to Westport and look forward to a smooth transition," Joseloff added.

Though Conrad departs for Westport just as New Canaan is beginning to prepare its 2012-13 budget, Mallozzi said the town nonetheless is in good shape because of the hiring of Budget Director Jennifer Charneski last year. He said the budget plans will move along smoothly with her and Town Administrator Tom Staddler in the interim.

"We were good enough to commit to a budget director in Jennifer Charneski last year. Now it looks like an even wiser decision," Mallozzi said. "With Gary gone, we still have someone with some knowledge in Jennifer, who was instrumental in developing the budget last year. So thankfully, the void on the budget side is not as great as it could have been."

As for finding New Canaan's next chief financial officer, Mallozzi said he will take time in searching since he believes Charneski is capable of handling things on the budget side over the next several months.