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Former city manager takes reins of Albemarle water authority

By Sean Tubbs

Friday, May 21, 2010

Charlottesville Tomorrow




ACSA Executive Director Gary O’Connell


Over a month after leaving Charlottesville government,

Gary O’Connell

is settling in as executive director of the

Albemarle County Service Authority

(ACSA).

“It’s been a good move for me,” said O’Connell, who served as city manager for 14 years before switching jobs in April.  “I think I’ve had a pretty good start.”

Jim Colbaugh, an ACSA board member since April 2008, said the authority benefits from having a leader who did not need to learn about the community.

“We don’t have to explain to him what’s going on,” Colbaugh said. “He can tell us what’s going on.”

O’Connell presided Thursday over his first regular meeting of the ACSA Board of Directors. While the board made no major decisions, O’Connell made several subtle changes in the way the meeting was run, such as including a monthly executive director’s report.  He also unveiled a map he had created that depicts all of the ACSA’s current capital projects.

“I started the map for my own knowledge to understand the areas that we serve,” O’Connell said.

O’Connell takes over at a time when the community will decide on the next steps on the implementation of the community water supply plan adopted in 2006.

“The pieces of the puzzle are starting to drop in,” O’Connell said. He recommended that his board pursue a summer meeting with

City Council

, the

Board of Supervisors

and the

Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority

(RWSA) board to choose a path.

In his capacity as city manager, O’Connell served as a member of the RWSA board. He’ll continue to serve on that body, but will now represent Albemarle County along with County Executive

Bob Tucker

and Supervisor

Ken Boyd

.

“I hope I can act somewhat as a bridge to bring us together for an appropriate water plan,” O’Connell said.

O’Connell also told the board he will consider making administrative changes to the ACSA after he has been on the job for six months. He also said he wants the board to evaluate his performance halfway into his first year.

“My first six months are ‘look, learn, listen, and ask a lot of questions’,” O’Connell said. “The [authority] has been around since 1964 so there’s lots of history to learn. I’m learning how things work and will start looking for where I can help and make improvements.”