Town administrator to retire in the spring

Town Administrator John Crary will be retiring this coming spring. — Ken Borsuk photo

Town Administrator John Crary will be retiring this coming spring. — Ken Borsuk photo

Offering up the quite reasonable explanation that he would much rather spend his winters with family in Florida than working on the town budget, Town Administrator John Crary has announced his retirement.

However, Mr. Crary is not going anywhere quite yet. His retirement will not become official until the spring of 2015 giving the town time to find a successor while he works on the development and approval of the 2015-16 municipal budget. Mr. Crary intentionally set a loose date for the retirement so the dual processes could take place without a looming deadline.

In making the announcement on Wednesday afternoon, First Selectman Peter Tesei called it “bittersweet” and said Mr. Crary was “much beloved.” Several other officials, including Selectman David Theis, town Tax Collector Tod Laudonia and Town Clerk Carmella Budkens, as well as town department heads and members of the Board of Estimate and Taxation attended the press conference and offered a hearty round of applause in tribute to Mr. Crary.

“I would like to personally praise John for his dedication and work ethic on behalf of the town,” Mr. Tesei said. “He’s been an invaluable member of my administration.”

Mr. Tesei singled out Mr. Crary’s efforts in working with town department heads as well as in improving town employee safety and guiding the town through a reduction in workforce as a result of the 2008 economic downturn. He noted Mr. Crary’s development of an early retirement system helped ease the issue around town budget shortfalls and make for a smoother transition for employees.

“He set a standard of excellence and continuously worked on implementing best practices to improve the efficiency and services offered by the town,” Mr. Tesei said.

Mr. Crary has been in this position since 2007 after previously serving in a similar role for the town of Darien for five years. Mr. Tesei called him his “chief advisor” and thanked him for everything he had done with the day to day operations of the town, saying that Mr. Crary had a role in any successes he might have had over his first four terms in office. He even jokingly referred to Mr. Crary’s impressive height by saying the town would be “looking to fill some very large shoes both figuratively and literally.”

“He had my full confidence, admiration and support during his tenure and implemented many improvements that benefited our community,” Mr. Tesei said.

A search for a successor is already underway and Mr. Crary is expected to stay on until one is found. Mr. Tesei said that the town had hired the search firm of Novak Consulting Group to work with the town’s Department of Human Resources in recruiting and vetting candidates. The first batch of candidates are expected to be looked at starting next week but the process is anticipated to take three to four months. Interview panels will be formed to evaluate any potential candidates as they have with recent high level hires by the town.

The town administrator is a position that reports directly to the first selectman and they are hired by decision from whomever holds that office. It does not have to be approved by the rest of the Board of Selectmen or the Representative Town Meeting.

Mr. Crary said that he had originally thought about retiring this month but had decided it made more sense to do it in the spring because it would not have been fair to bring in someone new right in the middle of the town’s budget process.

“I want to thank the entire community,” Mr. Crary said. “It’s really been a joy to work here and it’s gone by very quickly. I never expected seven years to go by as quickly as it has and it really is the capstone in my career in terms of jobs. I couldn’t find a better place to work with more responsibilities and more challenges.”

Once his retirement becomes official, Mr. Crary said he plans to start sleeping much later as well as spending more time in Florida, where he just bought a home, being with family, reading, exercising and improving his cooking skills.

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