By SHERIDAN CYR
Garry Brumback was new to town when he arrived in Southington in 2010, but for seven years he served the town as just the second Town Manager in Southington history. After accepting a position as City Manager for Treasure Island, Fla., the Brumback era came to an end on Friday, Nov. 17.
Before leaving his chair in the town hall, Brumback sat down with The Observer to talk about his time with Southington, what he accomplished, what he wasn’t able to do, and what he’ll miss the most.
Q: What made you choose a career of public service?
A: I was always fascinated with local government. I knew nothing about it, so I kind of learned on the job, and I’ve subsequently discovered that local government is the best level of government because you can actually make things happen. I go to work every day looking for an opportunity to contribute to my community.
In the federal government, it could take months and years to get something done. In local government, it takes minutes and hours.
I actually know the people I’m providing a service to, I know their names, I know their wants and needs, and it really is a remarkable place to be in government.
Q: What are some of the major projects you had a hand in while in office?
A: Prior to my arrival, [the town] was kind of in battle with the elected officials, and sometimes the public. The reestablishment of a high-performing, professional, customer-oriented organization is the thing I’m most proud of.
Secondly, we passed a number of referendums: two on major road improvements, one on the Calendar House, and one on a complete redo of the waste water treatment plant. I think the recognition and appreciation of providing us the resources necessary to make a significant improvement on our infrastructure that had been lacking is huge.
Thirdly, the working and maneuvering toward recognizing sustainable energy and being more energy efficient… We passed $13 million worth of energy efficiency improvement along with five solar arrays and a food waste-to-energy plant, all of which are huge in their ability to make us appreciative of our environment and sustainable in the long run.
As a result of solar energy, we are saving over $950,000 a year. We used to spend about $3 million each year on energy. Our goal at the start was to cut that down by a third, and we did. With that, we were able to keep the pace of growth down on taxes.
Q: Looking back, is there anything that you would have done differently or that you didn’t get to do?
A: I think I would have liked to do more—more opportunities to address infrastructure, more opportunity to provide community services.
I would’ve liked to have worked harder on reducing the financial impact. We did some of all of that, just not as much as I would have liked.
Q: Are you confident that Mark Sciota is prepared to take the wheel?
A: Unquestionably. Mark Sciota is absolutely the perfect person to manage this town going forward. He understands and appreciates the history, but he is also really smart and recognizes the potential.
He’s that amazing combination of being a native to Southington, while also being experienced outside of Southington, so he has both an internal and external appreciation.
He is going to be exceptional by any measure. If ever there was the perfect replacement, it would be Mark Sciota as the next Town Manager.
Q: How do you hope to be remembered in Southington?
A: I just hope that in some small way, Southington bettered from me having been here. I think if I contributed to the improvement of the town and the government, I would consider that to be a successful legacy.
I really have enjoyed myself here.
Q: What will you miss the most about Southington?
A: The generosity of the people. I have never, in my whole career, been around a group of people who are so quick to rally around those in need and to do whatever it takes to help each other out.
I’m sure that Treasure Island has that kind of component to itself as well, but Southington is exceptional in that regard.
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Brumback comes from a long line of public service. He is a fifth generation military man, and he left his Clearwater, FL hometown to serve in the U.S. Army for 20 years. When he returned home, he took up a position in his local government.
After eight years of service there, he took his first City Manager position in Baytown, Texas. His wife, Jennifer, came with him there. Four years later, Brumback accepted the Town Manager position in Southington, which was closer to Jennifer’s hometown and family in upstate New York.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Cyr, email her at SCyr@SouthingtonObserver.com.