Schuetz says goodbye to city administrator post

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Andrea Behling
Sunday, August 3, 2014

MILTON--Tuesday marks Jerry Schuetz's last day as Milton's city administrator. The city hired him as police chief in 2008, and he moved up to city administrator in 2010.

During his time as administrator, he's seen the effects of state aid cuts and the struggles attached to the Highway 59/Highway 26 bypass, and he helped city administration and the police department move to a new building.

“Jerry has been a critical part in the things that have happened in the city for the past six years,” Mayor Brett Frazier said.

Schuetz resigned as city administrator to become communications supervisor for the Milton School District. Schuetz is using vacation time with the city to start with the school district Tuesday.

Schuetz answered the below questions about his time working for the city.

Q: What's it going to be like not being on the city of Milton staff anymore?

A: "I had the opportunity to work with so many great people. It's going to be different, but at the same time, I think, exciting to watch what is a very, very good organization filled with great people continue to grow and develop even though I might not be working with them in the same capacity I used to. I will enjoy being a part of the community and watching the city continue to grow. It will be different."

Q: You went from police chief to city administrator. Does that happen very often?

A: "I don't know. For me personally, what I was looking for was both a challenge and an opportunity. That's why I applied for the chief job. That's why I applied for the city administrator job, and to be quite honest, that's why I applied for the school district position. I was very fortunate to have grown up with two very hard-working parents. They taught me how to work very hard and be a community-minded person. My father would get up at 4 a.m. and work a part time-job to bag French bread so me and my brothers could have opportunities that we might not as a family have been able to afford. Yet he would still go to PTO conference meetings, and he was a soccer coach. My mom was a Cub Scout den leader. Being involved in your community and trying to make it better was a value that was instilled in me at a young age by two very hard-working parents. I'm grateful because I think that has steered my career."

Q: Obviously, in two top leadership positions, you're expected to take on quite a bit of responsibility, but you seem to have taken on even more than what was expected of you in these two positions. Why is that?

A: "I think it goes back to knowing when you're put in a position of pubic trust where the people want you to work hard and work for them … that you honor and respect that and work toward making sure you're upholding the community's expectations of you in that position. You do that by being engaged in the community in more than just a positional level. (It's important) that they see you as a parent, a friend, a colleague or someone cheering in the stands with them or somebody helping to coach their child. And also that they see you as a person that cares deeply about growth and development of young people in our community and that you're working hard to try to make our community better each and every day."

Q: What have you learned as city administrator and what are some of the things that have surprised you?

A: "I've learned so much about how invested our staff is in their jobs and how challenging some of their jobs are. I've gained a tremendous amount of respect for the various things that go on in managing the day-to-day affairs of the city. For many of our employees, particularly our department managers, their employment with the city of Milton is literally an extension of their life. It's all the time. It takes all these different moving parts to keep things working everyday."

Q: What would you say was the most profound impact you had on the city of Milton as administrator?

A: "Individually, I've had none. But collectively working with others, we've been able to accomplish quite a bit. I am forever grateful for the people who work with the organization as employees and those that have been business leaders and who have bought into some ideas that we have tried. And things that have been successful. In 2011, when the state budget and economy and everything was going really kind of upside down for a while …. our employees and council came together and said 'We're still going to proceed with plans for a public works facility and new city hall and police department.' It would have been easy to put all of those plans on hold and maintain the status quo and get through this storm. They didn't do that. They bought in on what we believed could be an improved Milton. Those are the things I'm most proud of—what we did together."

Q: Why do you think there was some negative reaction to you taking the school district job?

A: "I think a lot of it on its surface might have to do with some people not totally understanding the need for it. I think the school board and District Administrator Tim Schigur did a very nice job of explaining that at their last meeting. This is something they had been talking about for a long period of time. Sometimes, for better or worse, people like people in certain roles, and they don't necessarily like it when they change those roles. There was not unanimous support at first for me becoming the city administrator. They said, 'Well he's a cop. I don't know if he'll be good at that job.  …' The approach that I will take is the same approach I've had at any other new job. I'm going to spend a lot of time listening and learning and working to continue to develop partnerships and relationships and do what I can in partnership with others to take what is already a very good school district ... and try to make it even better."

Q: Do you have any advice to the incoming administrator?

A: "I think he or she is again going to be very, very fortunate, and I've told this to people that have applied, and that is, it's a great organization. Make sure you always remember the organization is made up of people first. Its most valued resource is also its most expensive, and that is our people. If you take care of them and if you're mindful of that fact, you will likely be very successful in this position. On the personal side, I think it would be to work very hard and be deliberate in your effort to create a sense of patience and work life balance. (They must also) recognize that conditions in government that might have taken years to develop over time might not be corrected in one or two budget cycles. As hard as we work to improve things, certain conditions ... may not be corrected in one or two years. You must continue to work each and every day at bettering those conditions and communicate to the public when you're collecting those tax dollars that that's what you're doing. You're working to better the existing condition. Have a sense of patience and work-life balance, and you'll enjoy the job as much as I did."

Q: What would you like to see the city continue to do after you leave?

A: "I hope the city continues to be a leader. What I mean by that is, I go back to truly feeling like one of the luckiest administrators and luckiest police chiefs in Rock County … and having had he opportunity to work for hard working and progressive mayors and city councils. When Milton was going to be doing things that were the first, those elected officials had the courage and the trust and belief in staff to lead. Milton looked to set the standard. I hope that Milton, its administrator, its management team and its elected officials will still work to continue to take into consideration the input of the community that it serves, but at the same time never lose sight and the courage that it has to lead in an effort to make Milton better. And we not just look to other communities and say, 'Well we should be like them.' We should be like how we want Milton to be."

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