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John Burt takes over as Groton town manager on Wednesday

Groton — Groton Town Manager John Burt, who started July 5, will take over on Wednesday as Groton's top administrator, after outgoing Town Manager Mark Oefinger retires Tuesday evening.

Burt previously served as county administrator in Otsego, Mich., and will earn an annual base salary of $157,000 under the terms of his contract, which runs from July 5, 2017, until July 4, 2022.

"We were looking for a highly qualified candidate and we were lucky to get John," Mayor Bruce Flax said. "He was being courted by a number of different communities all over the country, and he chose Groton because he wanted the challenge. He was eager to start and he had the background, as head of a county, that the council was looking for."

As county administrator in Michigan, Burt managed a budget of $33 million and more than 130 employees. He played an active role in managing county departments, a regional airport, emergency management services, 911 dispatch, all land use services, grants, parks and recreation and human resources.

Burt toured Groton departments and met employees at a meet and greet on Friday. 

"Every community is different; I've got a lot to learn," he said. "I'm just going to jump into it and take one thing at a time. I feel very comfortable here, though." Many aspects of the job are similar to his last position, he said.

Before relocating, Burt said he read extensively about Groton and watched about two dozen government meetings, including the Town Council, Representative Town Meeting and budget work sessions.

"I like government though," he said. "I like the process. I enjoyed watching them."

He and his wife, Stacey, and their two children arrived on Sunday and stayed in a hotel until finding an apartment Friday. John Burt said they have a short-term rental until they sell their house in Michigan. Stacey Burt worked as a school librarian at a Michigan elementary school. The couple have a son, 13, and a daughter, 16.

The town conducted a national search to find Burt, and was assisted by Wallingford-based Randi Frank Consulting LLC.

Town Councilor Bonnie Nault said the consultant helped handle salary negotiations with Burt. The town had to consider the higher cost of living in Connecticut versus Michigan, she said.

Oefinger is retiring after 15 years as town manager and more than 30 years of service to the town. He earns $148,667. He started as town manager with an annual base salary of $108,150, as of July 1, 2002, according to his contract.

"If we hired (Oefinger) today, we'd be paying more money," Nault said. "Mark even told us, 'You know you're going to have to pay a lot more than I'm getting paid.'"

Burt’s contract provides him 10 days of paid vacation or personal leave and three days of paid sick leave as of his start date. He accrues 17 vacation days per year and 15 sick days per year, under the contract terms.

The town agreed to reimburse Burt for his one-time moving and relocation expenses up to $10,000, based on documented expenses after receiving three quotes from movers.

The contract also provides an annual vehicle allowance of $400 per month in lieu of mileage reimbursement.


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