GLASTONBURY — Richard J. Johnson, who served as city manager for nearly 29 years guiding the city to accomplishments that include triple-A ratings from both major national bond rating agencies, plans to retire by end of 2022, he announced in an email Thursday to city staffers.
Johnson had informed the city council of his retirement plans in an Oct. 26 letter, but did not make his plans public at that time. He attached the two-page letter to the brief email he sent to staffers on Thursday.
Johnson said in the letter to the board that he continues to appreciate “my role and my responsibilities” and looks forward to “new challenges and opportunities.”
“However, the time comes for each of us when the desire to explore other interests becomes too strong to resist,” he wrote. “For me, after 45 years of public service, that moment has arrived.”
Johnson said in the email to staffers that the city council will work over the next few months “to identify my successor.” He said in the Oct. 26 letter to the board that he was “ready to assist as much as you may find helpful” in this process and “to ensure a smooth transition.”
Johnson will reach his 29th birthday as city manager on July 1. During this period, he wrote, he worked with 15 city councils, including around 50 members. He thanked them “for the support they have shown me” and for “their understanding of the many challenges that the position presents”.
He also thanked the Finance Council “for its strong commitment to sound financial policies and practices and its continued confidence in the leadership of the City.”
He also expressed his “sincere thanks and gratitude to all the past and current City staff with whom I have had the great honor of working. Your talents and dedication are simply the best, and I will miss working with you.
Johnson devoted much of the letter to detailing several major initiatives the city has undertaken during his years as city manager, including land acquisition and preservation, including land in the area along of the Connecticut River that have been redeveloped with Riverfront Park, the Riverfront Community Center, and the Boathouse.
Regarding land acquisition in general, Johnson said he had “had the privilege of negotiating over 60 separate land purchases” totaling over 2,500 acres for purposes including open space, parks, educational and municipal facilities, agricultural land and other uses.
Among the most notable recent purchases were 542 acres of mostly forested land in the northern part of the city from a Metropolitan District Commission pension fund and more than 10 acres off Welles Street which he said , “will provide significant options for future use” near downtown and riverfront.
Johnson also cited the city’s capital improvement program; its “exceptional budget and financial management” which earned it a AAA bond rating from Standard and Poor’s in 2005 and an Aaa rating from Moody’s Investors Service several years later. He called these “proud moments for the community”, adding that Glastonbury’s debt service totaled 3.74% of expenditure, “well below the 10% guideline”.
Other accomplishments he cited include economic development, particularly the Gateway area on East and West Boulevards, and energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives.
“Overall, energy consumption for city operations is significantly lower than previous years’ levels, and we are on track to source 75% of electricity from renewable sources by 2025. “, he wrote.