By JEN CARDINES
It’s been a little over a week since leaked reports announced that Garry Brumback is retiring as Southington’s Town Manager by the end of the year. In an email last Tuesday, he notified Town Council members and department heads about his plans to move south.
While he’s retiring from Southington, Brumback said that his career isn’t quite finished.
“I’m not done working,” Brumback said to The Observer. “I’m never going to be able to match Southington, but if I can go to a place where they want me and I want them, that would be ideal.”
Brumback is just the second Town Manager in Southington’s history. He was hired in 2011, following the retirement of the late John Weichsel, whose 44 years serving Southington set a national record as the longest tenure with one community.
Before coming to Southington, Brumback was the Assistant City Manager in Clearwater, Fla. from 2000 to 2007 before becoming the City Manager in Baytown Texas. Although Brumback served in Clearwater for eight years, his service with Southington (7 years) is his longest tenure as a town leader.
Prior to his career in public service, Brumback retired from the U.S. Army after a 20 year career. He said that, at the time, being a town manager was the farthest thing from his mind.
“I absolutely didn’t even know it existed,” he said. “I’d never even heard of a town manager or knew what one was.”
After landing a job in strategic planning for the City of Clearwater, Brumback learned the ins and outs of government functions and was promoted to assistant city manager 18 months later. Having served in Clearwater and Baytown, Brumback was a highly qualified public servant by the time he got to Southington.
“Southington is really the highlight of my career in public service,” he said. “I’m proud of what our staff has accomplished in the area of infrastructure rehabilitation, energy efficiency, and just overall customer service and professionalism.”
Voters approved all but one referendum since Brumback came on board in 2011, including the middle school renovations and waste water treatment facility upgrades, among others. The only one that didn’t meet voter approval was for a sewer extension on West Street.
“I think that we’ve established trust in the budgeting process and with the residents,” said Brumback. “Being a part of a professional organization that is focused on taking care of the residents is what I’m hoping my legacy is.”
While he enjoys Southington, and his position isn’t up for renewal this year, the town manager he said he needs to be closer to his aging father, who lives in their hometown of Clearwater.
“My contract isn’t up until 2020 but from my perspective, going back and being close to my family is important,” he said. “I’m not necessarily committed to Florida, but that’s kind of my goal.”
Brumback calls Clearwater his hometown. His current home in Southington is his 21st house. During his 20 years in the United States Army, he moved 11 times followed by the three moves for his government positions. Though the manager has lived all over the country, he said that Southington gave him a lot of friendships and connections that he will miss.
“I have enjoyed being a part of this amazing community,” he said. “Connecticut is a terrific state, and I’m hoping that they pull themselves out of [the financial crisis] without doing too much damage to the municipalities.”
Brumback said that Southington’s biggest challenge moving forward is its relationship to the state.
“The biggest challenge/unfinished business that I’m leaving behind is managing the state financial crisis,” he said. “That’s going to be tough and I don’t know what that’s going to look like. I just know it’s going to be extremely difficult.”
Brumback has not officially set a retirement date, but anticipates it to be by the year’s end, if not in January.
The Town Council is responsible for appointing a new town manager, and the search is already underway for Southington’s third manager.
A special meeting has been called on Aug. 21 by Town Council chair Mike Riccio. According to reports, Riccio plans to forgo an interview process despite protests from opponents and will name Deputy Town Manager and Town Attorney Mark Sciota as Brumback’s replacement.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Jen Cardines, email her at JCardines@SouthingtonObserver.com.