Superb effort

Published 12:49 am Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Although he served Washington for just seven months, Pete Connet served the city well.

Hired as interim city manager after James C. Smith resigned to become town manager in Farmville, Connet began working for the city Dec. 1, 2010. His last day with Washington is Thursday. During his seven months on the job, Connet was impressive.

Connet, unfamiliar with the city’s finances, almost immediately faced the challenge of putting together a budget proposal for the new fiscal year that begins Friday. The challenge was dealing with an economy still lingering from the effects of the Great Recession — declines in revenues — and providing the same level of services in the face of increasing costs.

Connet met the challenge. And he would be the first person to tell you he had plenty of help from city staff. Connet’s proposed budget, adopted with several relatively minor modifications by the council, did not raise the city’s property tax rate or fees for water, sewer, trash collection and stormwater services. His proposed budget also included a recommendation the city decrease the residential electric rates for Washington Electric Utilities customers inside the city limits. The council approved that recommendation.

Connet, a veteran municipal manager, didn’t approach the job as interim city manager with the attitude of being a short-timer doing little but collecting a paycheck. Unfortunately, that happens from time to time when an interim administrator is hired. Connet’s approach to the job was as if he would be working for the next 20 years.
City managers, town managers and county managers just starting their careers would do well to emulate Connet.

Washington was blessed to have Connet at the helm during a challenging time of transition.