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Published: Tuesday, 5/23/2006

Monroe officials upbeat over new city manager

BY GEORGE J. TANBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MONROE - Officials say they're elated over the hiring of George Brown as Monroe's city manager.

"I think he's going to be a good fit for the city of Monroe," said Mayor C.D. "Al" Cappuccilli. "He has what we're looking for: a person who has people skills. Interpersonal skills are critical for our city manager, [as they] work with our staff."

Mr. Brown, city administrator in Adrian from 1998 to 2005, bested the other finalist, George Strand, village manager of Homer, Mich., in a 5-2 vote.

Mr. Brown, 54, said he was thrilled to win the job.

"I'm real pleased and honored," he said. "I'm really looking forward to getting on board in Monroe. The city has an impressive history. It also is a city that has a great reputation for taking the initiative, in particular in development and redevelopment."

Councilman Linda Compora, a Brown supporter from the get-go, was glad other councilmen and the mayor, with whom she often spars, felt the same way. "He is very confident in his knowledge and in his expertise, and it shows," she said.

Councilman John Martin supported Mr. Strand, as did Councilman Willian Burkett. But Mr. Martin said he could live with Mr. Brown's selection.

"I felt [Mr. Strand] was set apart in his [view] of how to run the city. His ideas were different," Mr. Martin said. "[But] I can't say anything negative about George Brown. I feel very comfortable with [him] running the city."

Mr. Brown resigned his Adrian job in November after a new mayor was elected. In his last two years as city administrator, Mr. Brown sparred with several city commission members who called for his resignation after Mr. Brown became involved in a controversy surrounding former police chief Michael Martin.

Mayor Cappuccilli said Mr. Brown's situation in Adrian was a non-issue. "When you look at a city manager's life span, it's [usually] three to four years. He spent seven years [in Adrian]," Mr. Cappuccilli said.

Mr. Brown said he enjoyed his experience in Adrian and had no hard feelings about his uneasy departure. "I had the best years of my career in Adrian," he said. "It was the best staff I ever worked with."

With a tight budget, decreased revenue, and other problematic issues, Mr. Brown will have a big challenge ahead of him in Monroe, Mr. Cappuccilli said.

"Number one is finances," he said. "Obviously, we're like many cities in the state. We're at a difficult point."

Mr. Brown said he's up to the challenge. "It's up to City Council, the staff, and myself to come up with solutions. I can't say how we're going to approach it until I get on board and get immersed in the details," he said.

Adrian and Monroe are comparable in size, with about 22,000 residents. Monroe has 251 full-time and 28 part-time employees. Adrian has 165 full-time and about 12 part-time employees. The similarities between the two cities attracted Monroe officials to Mr. Brown.

He is to begin working June 5, according to John Michrina, the acting city manager. Mr. Brown's salary has yet to be determined but will be between $95,000 and $100,000 annually. He will also receive a city-owned car.

Mr. Brown will replace Debbie Manns, who was fired on Feb. 6.

Contact George Tanber at:

gtanber@theblade.com

or 734-241-3610.


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