Annual City Meeting
March 5th, 2013
It is an honor to serve as your mayor. In my first year in this position, I have been impressed with the level of civic participation of our residents and the positive spirit of our community. We are fortunate to live in a city with a vibrant downtown, safe neighborhoods, a good school system and an abundance of social and cultural opportunities.
I have also been impressed with the quality of our city staff, from the tireless devotion of City Manager Bill Fraser to the quiet dedication of countless staff in the public safety, public works and the other departments that serve our community.
There is great energy and optimism in Montpelier. There are many ideas afloat to harness the creativity and enthusiasm that exists here to create more events, enhance the appearance of our downtown, attract more entrepreneurs and promote the arts.
Our city auditor commented recently that our municipal controls are among the best he has seen. Our finances are sound.
Like many communities, however, our city faces significant fiscal challenges. Our median tax bills are the highest in the state and have been growing much faster than the rate of inflation, even as household incomes have fallen. At the same time, our roads and sidewalks are in desperate need of repair.
This year’s municipal budget attempts to address these concerns. The budget provides for an increase equivalent to the change in the consumer price index, with all additional revenues dedicated to infrastructure investments.
The City needs to spend nearly $1 million per year more than we have been spending to maintain our infrastructure. While this year’s budget begins to rebuild our infrastructure and restrain costs, the reprioritization of city expenses will be a multi-year process.
Because the majority of municipal expenditures are personnel, it was necessary to reduce staffing in order to meet the City’s fiscal challenges. The proposed budget would reduce 4.22 full-time city positions. These positions are in the agencies of Fire, Police, Public Works, Planning and Administration.
While it certainly is not preferable to make reductions in city staffing – and these changes will have some impact on City services – we have received assurances from our city manager and the heads of the Police, Fire, Planning and Public Works departments that they will not adversely affect the City’s ability to meet basic public health and safety needs.
There are many projects underway that will improve the quality of life in our community. These include:
- District Heat. The City has awarded a contract for the construction of the distribution system for the new biomass heat project in downtown Montpelier. The City continues to sign up new customers. Construction on this project will begin this spring.
- Carr Lot. The City continues negotiations with property owners for the acquisition of parcels that will be used for a transit center, park, bike path and pedestrian bridge across the North Branch of the Winooski. This project will greatly improve the appearance of our community as visitors enter Montpelier.
- Bike Path. Final site plans have been approved from the Agency of Transportation for the extension of the bike path from Granite Street to the city’s eastern limits. We are in the process of acquiring the necessary easements and obtaining site plan approval. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2014.
The City Council has established a goal for Montpelier to become a nationally-recognized bike- and pedestrian-friendly community. We held a bike summit in October that was attended by more than 60 residents. We have appointed a new bicycle advisory committee and are making plans for upgrades in our infrastructure to meet the council’s goal.
The council has established several other goals which will form the basis for much of our work over the next year. You can see them at the city’s web site, www.montpelier-vt.org.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve as mayor of Montpelier. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any comments or concerns.
John Hollar, Mayor
City Manager's Message
It is an honor to present my 18th annual report to you, the citizens of Montpelier.
Some of the key city government activities of the year included:
The District Heat project, after some serious deliberation, received final approval by the City Council. A contractor has been selected and work will begin in the spring. The system is slated to be operational by October 1st.
The 58 Barre Street Senior Activity Center and Housing project is completed. This has renovated the old inefficient school/office building into a modern fuel efficient building housing a brand new Senior Activity Center and 6 units of Senior Housing on the upper floors. It is a wonderful downtown reclamation project which has re-energized the Senior Activity Center and added new taxable housing within the city.
The City’s long standing management of Berlin Pond came to an end when the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that the City did not have jurisdiction over activities on the pond. This has resulted in a flurry of activity both recreational and political as officials in both Berlin and Montpelier seek to find a proper outcome to this issue.
The long running Carr Lot Transit Center and Downtown Revitalization Project has moved into property acquisition phase. The City is currently negotiating with four property owners for purchase of land to complete this project. After three years of seeking EPA approval for hazardous waste clean up and FEMA approval for floodway mapping, the project was cleared for approvals from its funding agencies – Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The next phases will be public review of site plans, final design, permitting and construction hopefully starting in the fall of 2013.
The City reached contractual agreements with the Fire Department employee union. In recognition of current economic times, the union agreed to a 0% cost of living adjustment for 2012-13.
The Planning Commission has continued working diligently to prepare an overhauled zoning ordinance which reflects the community goals articulated in the enVision Montpelier Master Plan.
An unusually mild winter allowed an early start for many city projects and, accompanied by increased funding, resulted in increased street and sidewalk work. Improvements to City Hall included a new powered door and significant roof and duct work which has greatly improved energy efficiency.
An 18 person citizen committee devoted many hours during the summer and fall months studying the City’s budget and making comparisons to other communities. The committee report proved useful to the City Council when reviewing department operations.
Goals and Priorities
The City Council adopted a series of priorities for the year on June 27, 2012. This statement guides decisions, staff work, policy recommendations and budget proposals throughout the year. The following is a summary of those goals and action steps. Significant progress was made on most items.
Goal 1: Balance and control municipal budgeting, taxes and services relative to current population and grand list tax base.
Steps: Assemble a citizen’s group to compile municipal tax rate information from comparable municipalities. Develop longer term budget projections. Assure that all Matrix Report recommendations have been addressed. Set a Budget target, focus budget discussions on policy and services, not line items. Complete five year plan to implement debt and fund balance policy. Establish a rational process for funding outside agencies.
Goal 2: Maintain all city streets, bridges, sidewalks and other infrastructure (tennis courts, parks, rec paths, etc.) in (at minimum) fair or good condition as per appropriate rating indices.
Steps: Capital Improvements Committee to recommend a funding plan to improve streets and sidewalks to a reasonable level within five years. Develop comprehensive inventory of infrastructure needs and associated costs. Take steps to remove all dual utility poles in Montpelier.
Goal 3: Provide sufficient parking throughout the city for shoppers, visitors, businesses and housing.
Steps: Engage in a city-wide analysis of parking issues including review of existing information. Initiate discussions with State on parking issues especially regarding parking near State House. Review and balance alternatives between adding parking and reducing parking demand.
Goal 4: Provide comprehensive, accessible and useful information to constituent groups about the City government and the community.
Steps: Re-vamp city website to make it more user-friendly; provide clear and easy-to-find information for residents AND for potential residents and potential businesses. Expand use of social media to communicate city’s message while continuing traditional communications methods. Provide adequate staff and volunteer support to maintain communications efforts once they have started. Target appropriate information messages to specific audiences.
Goal 5: Promote and encourage a mix of single and multi family residential growth.
Steps: Create a hospitable environment for residential growth. Follow-through with recommendations of Barriers to Housing Committee. Consider public investment in infrastructure to generate housing. Review impact of sprinkler ordinance on housing.
Goal 6: Create an environment where businesses thrive throughout Montpelier.
Steps: Change narrative and present Montpelier as business friendly through brochures, communications and marketing. Maintain active role in Dickie Block redevelopment. Establish Economic Development and Business Recruitment/retention as municipal priorities. Maintain a viable and vibrant downtown. Consider financial incentives.
Goal 7: Become a nationally known bike and pedestrian friendly city.
Steps: Repair sections of bike path and bridge. Install additional bike racks downtown. Make completing the bike path a priority project. Convene a bike/pedestrian summit in conjunction with Parks Commission. Create and publish a prioritized list of other sidewalks in need of repair or replacement. Continue to work with Sidewalk Stewards to help monitor conditions.
Goal 8: Make significant progress on three major outstanding capital projects: District Heat, Transit Center and Montpelier/Berlin Bike Path.
Other: The Director of Finance shall present an auditors approved process to the Council indicating a revised process for the authorization of payment of bills and warrants. The Council shall appoint a Charter Review Commission. Its charge to analyze the contents of the Charter regarding anachronisms, items to be deleted, amended or added. The Commission shall report its findings no later than 11 December 2012. The Council will consider appropriate means of volunteer appreciation and recognition.
The following guidelines were used in preparing this budget proposal:
Resources utilized in budget deliberations were the Council’s Goals document, the Council’s Budget survey and workshop discussion, Council policies on debt service and fund balance, the City’s Master Plan, the 2009 Citizen Survey, the 2011 Matrix report, the 2012 Citizens Budget Study Committee report and recommendations from the City’s staff at all levels.
- Budget must reflect the City Council’s adopted goals and priorities and enable those goals to be advanced.
- Overall budget/property tax increase must be consistent with the cost of living (CPI) which was 2.2% as of October 31st.
- Must incorporate increased funding for infrastructure and capital needs based on the “Steady State” plan developed by the Capital Improvements Committee.
- Must deliver responsible levels of service to the residents of Montpelier.
- Should continue FY13 funding levels for the Community Fund and Community Enhancements.
- Should minimize impact on existing employees to the extent possible.
FY14 Budget for all funds, including petitioned ballot items, is $18,693,731. Compared to FY13, this is an increase of $801,560 or 4.48%. However, $390,069 of that increase is for the new District Heat Budget. Without District Heat, overall funds are up 2.28%.
FY14 General Fund budget totals $11,007,106 which is an increase of $231,053 (2.1%) from the comparable FY13 spending plan.
FY14 General Fund non-tax revenues total $3,861,288 which is an increase of $129,453 (3.5%) from FY13 non-tax revenues.
Consistent with the Council’s fund balance policy, no general fund balance is used to offset the budget and reduce taxes. The FY13 budget used $74,500 in fund balance revenue creating a financial gap to close this year,
Revenues from the State of Vermont such as Payments in Lieu of Taxes, Highway Aid, Grand List Maintenance funding and the Justice Center basic grant have been assumed to remain at their present funding levels.
Grand List value is virtually flat (0.03% estimated increase). With the current grand list, $83,150 represents one cent on the tax rate.
Property Tax Impact:
The net result of revenues and expenses is that $7,145,818 in property tax revenues are required for the city portion of the budget. This is an increase of $101,600 or 1.4% over FY13. $166,300 increase is for the Capital Plan and is the precise amount recommended by the Capital Plan Committee. The
budget for overall city operations is reduced by $64,700 from FY13.
Requires a 1.2 cent increase in the property tax rate. Including the Recreation budget, a 1.2 cent increase represents a 1.3% property tax rate increase. For the average residential property valued at $223,000, 1.2 cents on the tax rate represents $28.99 on the tax bill.
The Library, Circulator Bus and Firefighter petition ballot items combined represent an increase of $69,167 (20.7%) over comparable ballot items in FY13. They represent a total of 0.8 cent tax increase.
The combined total of the municipal budgets and the ballot items results in a 2.0 cent (2.1%) tax increase or about $45.71 on an average bill.
Two bonds are proposed. One bond is in the General Fund for $710,000 to be used for sidewalks, retaining walls and storm drains & culverts. This bond is consistent with the recommendation of the Capital Improvements Committee. Debt service for this bond is already included in the General Fund budget.
The second bond is in the Sewer Fund and is for $670,000 for repair to a failing sewer line on River Street. Based on our sewer contract, it is expected that approximately 66% of this bond cost will be paid by Berlin through their annual billings. Debt service for this bond is already included in the Sewer Fund budget.
Infrastructure bonds are planned to be part of a series with subsequent bonds of $710,000 in FY17 and $705,000 in FY20.
The Capital Projects, Equipment and Debt Service Program is funded at $1,738,704. Of this $558,974 is in annual funding, $664,730 is in existing and proposed debt service and $515,000 is for equipment. This is exactly according to the long term funding plan and represents an overall increase for these combined items of $166,300.
The Capital/Equipment Plan anticipates additional increases of $166,300 in each of the next four budget years – FY15 through FY18 – in order to bring funding levels to the projected steady state of maintenance and improvements.
Taking advantage of four anticipated retirements and two recent resignations, the budget reduces the city’s workforce without appearing to require layoffs. Four full time positions and one part time position have been eliminated. One full time position has been converted to part time. Two small part time positions have been added.
Total number of Full Time Equivalent Employees (including Senior Center) is 107.56 This is a net decrease of 4.22 (3.8%) from the FY13 budget. We eliminated a full time firefighter/EMT, a full time police officer, a full time public works street employee, a full time administration position, a half time GIS position and reduced a full time zoning administrator position to half time. We have added a .4 clerical assistant at the senior center and a .25 caretaker in the parks. A .875 position in CJC was expanded to 1.0 .
Cost of living allowances and step increases are built into all employee wage and salary accounts consistent with collective bargaining agreements and personnel policies. For this budget that represents a 2.25% adjustment for Fire Union employees, 2.0% for Police Union employees and 2.2% (or CPI) for Public Works Union employees. A 2.0% adjustment for non-union employees is also included.
Includes the School Resource Officer in the City’s budget with the School Department sharing 50% of the cost.
The budget retains funding for the Assistant City Manager position. This position will have three primary areas of responsibility directly related to Council goals and priorities. 1 – Communications, research and policy analysis. 2 – Project Management and overall management assistance. Oversight of the District Heat system. 3 – Community Services and Economic Development including supervision of the Planning & Development Department, Senior Center, Justice Center and Parks Department while coordinating with the Recreation and Cemetery Departments.
The budget continues the high deductible health insurance plan which was implemented two years ago. Given rising costs and new opportunities with both state and federal changes, this is an area which will be reviewed during 2013.
No major changes or reductions in non-personnel operating costs are proposed. As with prior years, many lines have been trimmed to stay within fiscal guidelines.
Heating costs for City Hall/Fire Station and the Police Station have been calculated based on the District Heat cost estimates.
The budget anticipates contracting and/or regionally sharing ambulance billing and collection rather than performing this function with city staff.
The Community Justice Center budget includes all funding for all programs with commensurate revenue offsets. There is no net property tax funding projected.
The Water and Wastewater budgets have both been balanced. The Wastewater Fund is now in a small surplus position and the Water Fund is slowly but steadily reducing its deficit. The budget does not assume any changes in Water or Sewer rates nor Sewer or CSO benefit charges.
Tax funding for the Senior Center is increased by $41,103 (35%) reflecting the realities of operating continuing and new programs to fulfill the Center’s mission in a newly renovated facility. This money includes an additional 0.4 position, which enables the staff to adequately manage the operations, to serve the growing senior population of Montpelier, and to solicit additional funding from outside towns consistent with City policy and the Center’s multi-year strategic plan being drafted this month.
The Parks budget includes $15,000 for a caretaker to live in the city owned house in the park. The funds are to be paid for specific work functions. The budget also includes $12,000 in rental revenue for the house. This house has been occupied for years by the Parks Director but he is moving to another residence.
The Parking fund is balanced contingent upon parking fee increases. Without some fee increases, the fund is out of balance by $50,000. Parking fees have not been adjusted since 2004.
The District Heat Fund budget is included for the first time. Although the option of a third party operator is being pursued, the project and system is presently owned and operated by the city. The General Fund is realizing $55,376 in revenue from District Heat, $20,376 to pay the 2009 bond and $35,000 for city costs associated with the system. The $35,000 could, potentially, rise as high as $75,000 or disappear altogether if redirected to an outside operator.
The Housing Trust Fund is funded at $41,000, the same as FY13.
The Montpelier Community & Arts Fund is funded at $118,175 which is the same amount of funding for outside agencies and the Arts Fund in FY13.
Community Enhancements including Montpelier Alive and various festivals, lighting and events are funded at $29,500, the same as FY13.
This budget proposal addresses council goals by keeping the tax rate and spending in check while investing more funds in infrastructure. It directs resources to major projects including bike paths, economic/business/housing development and communications. It also maintains funding for the general community atmosphere.
On the other hand, overall services will decline somewhat. Budget decisions have been made to minimize negative impacts but there may be some areas that are noticeable to the public.
Police: One less police officer will result in a lot less foot and bike patrol in the downtown. Some call responses will take longer and some may be processed differently. When officers are out due to injury, illness, vacancy or leave, there will be a reduced pool of available people to fill in. The department has, however, functioned successfully with this staffing level in the past so we expect it to work, just not as efficiently as it does presently.
Fire: The Fire Department has had stable staffing levels for many years so the loss of one firefighter/EMT will change their operating and scheduling systems. They will have more occasions during the week when they are operating with less people on duty. This may be noticeable during simultaneous calls for responses on one night per week.
Fire Administration: With the phasing out of the Fire Department administrative position, ambulance billing will be contracted out. Duties such as payroll and accounts payable will be shifted to existing department firefighting staff and the Finance Department. Phone answering will be automated and there will be no greeter during the week for walk-ins if the duty crew is on a call.
Planning and Zoning: The reduction to a half time zoning administrator means that applicants may have to wait longer to process zoning permits. Some of this work will be picked up by the Planning & Development Director with assistance from other department staff. The direct involvement of the Assistant City Manager with this department will help shift away some project and community development efforts to allow more focus on planning and zoning. The loss of the half time GIS mapping and E-911 addressing position will require that those functions be handled by the Planning Assistant. Web site technical work will be transferred to the Technology Division while web site content will be overseen by the Assistant City Manager.
Public Works: Although Public Works has the most employees in the city, they also perform the widest array of work. The Street Division is the only DPW division solely funded through the General Fund, therefore it has borne the most cuts to hold tax rates in line. The department has already struggled with current assignments, given the increase in capital funding they will be expected to work on even more projects. We may be providing funding for some significant improvements without keeping up with funding to maintain them.
Other: In addition to reductions in service, both city staff and Matrix had identified previously existing capacity shortcomings in the areas of human resources management, facilities management and communications. Only communications is addressed differently in this budget.
Articles 1-8 are the annual election and regular budget items.
Article 9 is for a bond for $710,000 from the General Fund. This is proposed for the City to take advantage of low interest rates and begin to catch up on infrastructure and equipment funding. The amount of the bond falls within the City’s debt affordability policy. Bond proceeds will be used for sidewalks, storm drains and retaining walls. All of these improvements are projected to last longer than the bond re-payment period. The Steady State Infrastructure Plan anticipates similar bonds in FY17 and FY20.
Article 10 is for a bond for $670,000 from the Sewer Fund. This is proposed to repair and replace a failing sewer line along River Street. Complete failure of the line could result in environmental issues and an enforcement order to perform immediate repair.
Article 11 is for a bond for $2,300,000 from the School Fund. This is proposed for energy, efficiency and safety improvements in all three school buildings.
Article 12 is a proposal to create a Downtown Improvement District where commercial properties within the designated zone would pay an additional tax increment with the funds raised going directly for promotions and improvements within that district. The article proposes that $75,000 be raised through this manner. This proposal was recommended to the City Council by Montpelier Alive.
Article 13 is for $308,673 for the Kellogg Hubbard Library. Three years ago, the City Council chose to place the full amount of the Library request on the ballot rather than splitting the request between the ballot and the budget. This decision was made because the Library is not a municipal department under the Council’s oversight and therefore the Council has no influence on the budget request. This article was by petition because the amount was increased from the prior year.
Article 14 is for $40,000 for the Green Mountain Transit Agency Circulator Bus. This item was by petition and would continue the circulator bus service within the community.
Article 15 is for $56,669 to be added to the Fire Department budget. This item was by petition.
Article 16 is for a non-binding resolution concerning tar sands oil transport in Vermont. This item was by petition.
Given systematic increases such as wages and benefit costs, operating costs and other factors, the challenge of meeting this budget’s financial targets resulted in the need to reduce about $450,000 or 4% from the FY13 base budget. This resulted in decisions which will change the way some services are delivered.
It is my professional opinion, though, that this budget directly reflects the goals, funding priorities and financial limits articulated by the City Council.
It’s my professional opinion that this property tax proposal can only be significantly reduced by re-visiting policy choices in direct services or programs, the capital/equipment plan, more use of fund balance, or pursuing alternate revenue sources. I remain concerned that with continual budget tightening the city government will not be able to meet the current expectations of high services by the public and policy making boards.
- The tax rate is within CPI.
- Funding for infrastructure is increased.
- Use of fund balance was eliminated.
- Proposed bonds are within debt policy limits over the long term.
- The capacity to advance projects including bike projects, economic/housing development, consolidation of community services and communications are all addressed.
- Impact to services is perceptible but not debilitating.
- All community funding remains at FY13 levels.
This budget is always a team effort from start to finish. The City’s department heads worked diligently to meet our budget challenges. I would like to particularly recognize the efforts of Finance Director Sandy Gallup. I thank the City Council for carefully reviewing the budget and providing clear policy and priority guidelines early in the process.
Thanks are due to the dedicated individuals who deliver local government services to Montpelier residents 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year. City employees work under difficult circumstances and dangerous situations so that residents may have clean water, effective sewage disposal, safe and clear roads, quick and effective fire and ambulance response, responsive and preventive police work, comprehensive planning and review of local development, wonderful parks/facilities and proper administration of citizen’s needs. They are highly trained and certified in specialized fields. The 2009 Citizen Survey showed that residents have very positive impressions of city employees. I am proud of all of Montpelier’s staff and know that they are hard working, dedicated and incredibly capable.
Montpelier is fortunate to have a strong team of department heads. These individuals’ experience, education, talent and dedication keep our operations among the very best in the state. Parks Director Geoff Beyer, Community Justice Center Director Yvonne Byrd, Senior Activity Center Director Janna Clar, Police Chief Anthony Facos, Finance Director Sandra Gallup, Fire Chief Robert Gowans, Planning & Development Director Gwendolyn Hallsmith, Cemetery Superintendent Patrick Healy, Public Works Director Todd Law, City Clerk John Odum and Assessor Steve Twombly work as a highly efficient team while also managing their respective areas of responsibility.
As it is with every year, some city employees choose to retire or move on to other endeavors. We are grateful for their service and contributions to the community. We wish them the very best in the next steps along their life’s path. Those who left city employment in 2012 include Firefighter/EMT William Clifford, Clerk’s Assistant Joan Clack, DPW Street Division Employees John Fisk and James Lee (after 27 years of service to the City), Zoning Administrator Clancy DeSmet, Building Inspector Glenn Moore (after 31 years of service to the City) and GIS/Web Administrator Eric Scharnberg.
I’d like to call specific attention to former Assistant City Manager Beverlee Pembroke Hill who has settled into a part-time position as Delinquent Tax Collector and Finance Department assistant. Bev was often seen out in the community, at the legislature and in the middle of any number of meetings. The City has benefited enormously from her dedicated service and enthusiastic attitude. She remains a friendly face at City Hall but in a whole different role.
2012 was also the year in which we reorganized the work of the City Clerk and Treasurer. For many years this had been combined into a single elected position. This past year the community elected City Clerk John Odum to the new Clerk’s office while the Council appointed Charlotte Hoyt to continue as Treasurer on a part-time basis.
During 2012 we welcomed Wastewater Plant Operator Christopher Cox, Police Officer Kathryn Purcell White, Community Development Specialist Kevin Casey, DPW Engineering Tech Zachary Blodgett, DPW Street Division Employee Seth Naikus and Building Inspector Chris Lumbra.
We greatly appreciated the efforts of Americorps participants Scott Humphrey and Hannah Snyder. They both completed their Americorps service. We have welcomed new Americorps participants Drew DiVitis and Luke Rafferty.
Montpelier has benefitted greatly from having many experienced employees who have spent distinguished careers with the city. We are beginning to see retirements with more to come in the near future which will literally change the face of city government. I’d like to recognize and thank individuals with 25 or more years of experience with the City of Montpelier. These 20 people represent over 18% of our total workforce!
Charlotte Hoyt, Treasurer 40 years
Sandra Pitonyak, City Manager’s Office 39 years
Sheila Pembroke, Fire Department 37 years
Douglas Hull, Public Works Department 36 years
Sharon Blatchford, Finance Department 34 years
Dean Utton, Public Works Department 34 years
Mark Moody, Police Department 33 years
George Richardson, Public Works Department 33 years
Jane Aldrighetti, Assessor/City Manager Office 33 years
Michael Papineau, Public Works Department 33 years
Robert Gowans, Fire/EMS Department 33 years
Cheryl Goslant, Police Department 32 years
Thomas McArdle, Public Works Department 30 years
Scott Powers, Public Works Department 28 years
Loretta Bresette, City Clerk/Treasurer Department 27 years
Michael Bilodeau, Public Works Department 27 years
Dana Huoppi, Fire Department 27 years
Nathan Cowens, Public Works Department 26 years
Beverlee Pembroke Hill, Tax Collector 25 years
Richard Cleveland, Police Department 25 years
Neil Martel, Police Department 25 years
Anthony Facos, Police Department 25 years
Mark Tillinghast, Fire Department 25 years
I thank the Mayor and City Council Members for their consistent support of the City staff and for the huge amount of time they commit to the community. Most people have no idea of the amount of time council members devote to what is often a thankless and stressful task.
In March, Mayor Mary Hooper stepped down after 8 years in the seat and Council Member Nancy Sherman also concluded her 12 years of service on the Council. In August, Council Member Sarah Jarvis resigned from the seat she held for 5 ½ years due to moving from the district she represented. I thank all three of these dedicated people for the time, effort and passion which they gave to the city.
Mayor John Hollar was elected to his first term in March as was Council Member Thierry Guerlain. In August, Council Member Anne Watson was appointed to complete the balance of Sarah Jarvis’ term. I offer congratulations and welcome to all three new city officials.
I also thank all the many citizen volunteers on our boards, commissions and committees for the long hours they give for the honorable purpose of serving their fellow residents. They face controversy, tough decisions, pressure and public criticism yet continue to offer their time, energy and expertise. Our democratic form of government relies on citizen participation for success and these individuals deserve the utmost in respect and appreciation for their dedication. I encourage more citizens to run for office, apply for appointments and volunteer for committees.
For eighteen years I have had the privilege of working daily with Sandy Pitonyak and Jane Aldrighetti in the City Manager’s office. Each year I try to think of a new way to sing their praises and acknowledge their professionalism and abilities. While I may run out of words, I do not run out of appreciation for each of them.
The biggest benefit to being City Manager is the great fortune of being a resident of this wonderful city. I’ve been honored to raise four children in the community, watch them journey through our fine schools and grow into wonderful young people. I thank Olivia, Patrick, Claire and Angus for their own many contributions to our community and for managing to remain unfazed by their dad’s public job. My final thanks are for my wife, Anne, who always provides good advice, gracefully handles comments and questions from people about city government and is my biggest supporter. She is truly my partner in all senses of the word.
William J. Fraser, City Manager