South Burlington’s staff will face a shakeup next June, when City Manager Kevin Dorn and Deputy City Manager Tom Hubbard retire.
On June 30, 2021, Dorn will end his seven-year tenure, and Hubbard will close 42 years of working for the city.
Dorn was appointed city manager in 2013 after serving as interim for a half-year. His selection followed a national search conducted by a Blue Ribbon Search Committee led by Lisa Ventriss, according to a 2013 report in The Other Paper.
As city manager and deputy city manager, respectively, Dorn and Hubbard have seen the city through goals like creating a walkable downtown — now in progress as City Center.
News of the retirements was shared publicly on Sept. 8, when city councilors discussed a timeline for their retirement. A search committee is expected to begin work in December for Dorn’s replacement, with a new manager named likely by April.
Under that timeline, the newcomer would start in early May, allowing them two months to train alongside Dorn and two months to select a deputy city manager, City Council Chair Helen Riehle explained.
“There’s a cost to that, but I think it’s a bigger cost to not do that and just have someone come in cold and have to learn the ropes,” she said.
Reached by phone, Dorn explained his decision to step down.
“My contract expires on June 30 and so my wife I just thought why not just have this be the last contract,” Dorn said. “She’s going to retire as well. We’re just at the point in our lives where we want to think about retirement and do some other things.”
Dorn is 64 years old and Hubbard will turn 63 in November.
Their post-career plans are still in the works, but travel and winter in Florida might be on the docket.
Hubbard has been considering retirement since the end of his last contract.
“I wanted to go out still feeling like I was contributing to the city and still feeling good about what it is that I’m doing, and I still do,” he said. “I’ve heard other people who have retired say, ‘Oh I stayed a couple years too long,’ or that kind of thing. I don’t want to be one of those people.”
Hubbard is looking forward to spending more time with his wife and grandchildren. But he’s not counting down the days, as he starts to experience his first lasts as deputy city manager.
Hubbard believes there will be a good transition with the new city manager working alongside Dorn for a couple months and the new deputy city manager likely having time to work with him. Plus, Hubbard said, he is staying local and will be available for questions should they arise.
“I really have enjoyed it. I’ve had different roles here over the years and this has been a real home for me,” Hubbard said. “It’s a very supportive community.”
But with more than half a year left in the position, there’s no shortage of work for Dorn and Hubbard to wrap up. Dorn wants to keep a sharp focus on the city’s budget and finances. South Burlington is on track to potentially close out fiscal year 2020 in the black even with challenges from COVID-19.
“The more difficult fiscal year we think is going to be the current one we’re in, fiscal 21, and so dealing with fiscal challenges is probably going to be the hallmark of the year ahead for us,” Dorn said.
As for his proudest accomplishment in the role? Dorn believes that there’s greater stability now than several years ago.
“I think I came in at a time of great instability, in municipal government and I think Tom and I are leaving at a time of stability, both financial stability, human resource stability, programmatic stability and I think the community is in a good place,” he said.
But he was quick to share the credit across all city departments and levels.
“Nobody does anything by themselves. It’s a team effort,” he said. “We’ve got an extraordinary team across the board.”
Now, the council will set to work creating a job posting for city manager.
“I hope we’ll find someone with similar talents,” Riehle said. “They are both so professional and really dedicated to the city.”
While Dorn and Hubbard didn’t always agree with the council, at times sharing their concerns, they always professionally carried out what the council decided and didn’t allow their personal preferences to “get in the way,” she added.
“Specifically, for Kevin; he is really creative and always thinking about future possibilities. I really cherish that,” Riehle said. “He really kind of understands city government and the possibilities, how it can effectively lead a community.”
Hubbard’s retirement will mean a loss for the city in terms of historical perspective, she continued.
“Plus, they’re just fun to work with. They both have great senses of humor and really care about the city. I just think they’re both really talented,” Riehle said.