If there is a message that Garry Brumback took from his first review by members of the town council, it’s that the town is moving in the right direction but there is a lot more work to be done.
Brumback was given a strong and very positive review late last week, and said Monday, receiving “meeting” or “exceeding expectations” in every category. Brumback said he’s “very happy” with the feedback, but feels he still has a lot of work to do.
“I don’t work for the review. The review is just a byproduct of the job,” Brumback said. “I’m grateful that the council has entrusted me with this responsibility and we came together to enhance goals and objectives over the winter. There is still a lot of work for us to do, even when it comes to the initial goals.”
Brumback will receive a 2-percent pay increase for the 2012-13 fiscal year, retroactive to July 1. The raise will bring his salary to approximately $150,000.
The review was the first that Brumback has had since the town hired him to begin work in late January 2011. It is also the first annual review that the council has ever had after there was no process in place to provide a formal written review of former Town Manager John Weichsel, who was Southington’s only town manager and worked for 44 years before retiring at the start of 2011.
Brumback will now be reviewed through a formal process annually, Dobbins and Palmieri each said.
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In his first 18-months with the town, Dobbins said he has been impressed by the way Brumback has taken initiative, particularly in areas that include information technology upgrades, the development and implementation of a five-year capital improvement plan, and his work to build a solid, sustainable budget for town operations.
Dobbins said he was impressed with the way Brumback was able to help bring the town’s IT system into the 21st century while maintaining a budget that saw no increase in spending in terms of town operations.
“The other impressive factor was Garry’s ability to communicate, not only with the council members, but in terms of working with the taxpayers as well,” Dobbins said. “He was punctual in getting back to individuals, no matter who they are or what questions they might have.”
The review wasn’t entirely without concerns, however. Palmieri said Monday that while the Democrats agreed with the overall assessment, he felt concerns may have been minimized some by the way the review is calculated.
On the night the review was conducted, an executive session matter during the July 16 council meeting, Dawn Miceli was not able to attend. That left eight people to review Brumback’s performance, six of which were Republicans.
Each vote was weighed individually to produce an overall grade, he said, which meant that 75 percent of the feedback was established using Republican votes.
“This is the first time that we’ve ever done something like this,” Palmieri said. “It’s a work in progress and this is intended to be an annual review, so I think it’s something to look at and hopefully we will be able to improve process next year.”
Palmieri said he, Miceli and John Barry have all had the opportunity to talk individually with Brumback about any concerns they had and were pleased with his response. He declined to discuss concerns in further detail.
“He’s done a good job; the town is in a better place,” Palmieri said. “There is still some learning going on, which is natural, and I think the review is reflective of the council’s opinions as a whole.”
Moving forward, Brumback said Monday that many of his goals will remain the same and he wants to expand on what has already been done. He said is a start and his job over the next several months will be to help provide as much information as possible to the public to help them make an informed decision when they go to the polls.
Brumback said he is also looking at expanding on the IT growth to this point, adding a virtual town hall that would allow staff and residents to conduct most, if not all of their business online.
“As I see it, my job is not to be here to raise controversy and that’s not I am striving for,” Brumback said. “The better I do my job, the less anyone will know I’m here and that’s the ultimate goal.
"To receive a positive review from the whole council, it’s a declaration that I need to continue working hard to achieve the goals we’ve established and that’s what I intend to do.”
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