Town administrator to end his eight-year run in Bristol

BRISTOL — After 30 years of dealing with pot holes, dog bite complaints and municipal budgets, Bristol town administrator Bill Bryant is ready to retire. Bryant, 57, tendered his letter of resignation at the March 17 selectboard meeting; and his last day will be April 30.
“It seemed like the right time to make a decision for me and the person who replaces me,” Bryant said, noting that the next fiscal year’s budget has been developed and approved by voters.
“And there is a selfish reason,” he added, mentioning that he has had a job since he started delivering newspapers as a youngster. “This will be the first summer off since I was 10 years old.”
The selectboard last week appointed Town Clerk and Treasurer Therese Kirby as interim town administrator after Bryant leaves. Board members hope to have a replacement hired by July 1.
At their April 7 meeting, the selectboard will discuss if it will recruit, vet and interview candidates for the job itself or if it will appoint a committee of townspeople to help with that.
Selectboard Chairman Joel Bouvier said Bryant has had a good eight-year run in Bristol and been an asset to the community.
“Bill has been a really good town administrator for us,” Bouvier said.
In July 2006 Bryant came to Bristol to replace retiring town administrator Bob Hall. Just prior to that he was town administrator in Waitsfield for 17 years. He had also worked in the municipal office in East Montpelier.
He started his career in town administration as an assistant in the Middlebury town office, working under Town Manager Rick McGuire. After McGuire left, Bryant worked with Middlebury Town Manager Betty Wheeler.
“Middlebury has been the best training ground for municipal administrators in Vermont,” Bryant said.
Bryant has gained satisfaction from his jobs in Bristol and elsewhere both by getting the big projects done, and by keeping the day-to-day town business moving.
“You feel that you’re accomplishing good things,” Bryant said. “It’s interesting to be involved in the democratic process of decision making.”
He emphasized repeatedly that the town administrator works in collaboration with the selectboard and many others. Nonetheless, Bristol has seen many infrastructure improvements under Bryant’s watch. Among those improvements are the renovations of Holley Hall, the $1.4 million stormwater system upgrade in 2010, the conservation commission’s Saunders conservation project along the New Haven River in South Bristol and construction of a fishing platform for disabled fishers off Lincoln Road, and movement of the Bristol Police Department last fall into their own offices in the Bristol Works complex.
“I’ll miss being involved in pushing positive projects forward,” Bryant said.
Even dealing with those budgets and dog complaints held some satisfaction for Bryant.
“You deal with unhappy people sometimes, and its satisfying if you can explain to them why we do things the way we do,” he said.
But with his career winding down, Bryant is looking forward to a summer filled with paddling, bicycling and completing some repairs on his Burlington home. He thinks by fall he will be ready to look at some volunteering opportunities. Will he also be looking to get back into municipal government work?
“That’s not in the game plan,” he said.
Bryant explained that after talking with administrators of his retirement plan at the Vermont Municipal Employee System, he saw that continuing to work past the 30-year mark did not make sense financially to him.
“It’s the way the pensions work,” he said. “You just do the math.”
He’s been happy to finish those 30 years in Bristol.
“There’s a wonderful sense of community here. This town has a real heart and soul to it,” Bryant said. “It’s a nicely laid out community with a downtown and a town built up around it and then a rural area around that with still-active farms.
“It’s a Norman Rockwell type of community.”

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