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Cambridge Council to vote on hiring deputy city manager as next city manager

Posted by Brock Parker  November 30, 2012 12:14 PM

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Cambridge City Councilors may vote Monday on whether to promote Deputy City Manager Richard Rossi to replace retiring City Manager Robert Healy next year.

Several city councilors have submitted a policy order that calls for hiring Rossi as the city manager for a three-year term beginning July 1, 2013.

Healy is retiring from the post after 32 years on June 30 and the council has been in discussions about whom it should hire to replace him.

City Councilor Leland Cheung said Friday that after multiple meetings it became apparent to the council that it could take a lengthy and costly process to define the scope of an extensive search for the next city manager.

Rossi was likely to serve as the interim city manager during that process, and Cheung said several councilors floated the idea of hiring him for the job because they are confident that he can sustain the city’s success and provide stability.

"He's extremely competent, widely well respected and has a great reputation," Cheung said.

At 66 years old, Rossi said he’s also had thoughts of retiring, but said he enjoys his job and would work hard if he’s appointed as the city manager.

“I’m thrilled with this opportunity,” he said. “If this comes to fruition, it’s a great thing for me.”

The proposal to hire Rossi comes as the city is about to begin work on the budget for the upcoming 2014 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

If the council hires Rossi as city manager, the council would quickly seek to negotiate his contract, according to the policy order calling for Rossi’s appointment, which was submitted by city councilors David Maher, Cheung, Ken Reeves, Tim Toomey, Marjorie Decker and Mayor Henrietta Davis.

Healy earned more than $336,000 on the job in 2010, which made him the highest paid municipal employee in the state. Rossi said his current salary as deputy city manager is in the mid $270,000 range and while he would be looking to receive a fair contract for his services, he would not be seeking to break any records.

Cheung said councilors realize that Rossi is close to retirement and is not likely to be working for the city for another 10 years. Hiring Rossi as city manager will give the council more time to work with the community on outlining what skills the city wants from the person who would succeed Rossi, said Cheung, as well as give the council more time to discuss how extensive of a search it wants to conduct.

Rossi said the city has an incredibly talented staff, and is doing well financially and with the programs it offers. Rossi said he’s had a great relationship with Healy during their years of service together.

“He’s done a lot of great things in this city, and I think the city should be grateful for his hard work and putting us in the position we’re in,” Rossi said.

A native of Cambridge who now lives in Watertown, Rossi said he rose through the ranks in the city, working stints in the city’s water department, as the purchasing agent as well as the acting public works commissioner and the deputy city manager job.

He said addressing the budget, supporting city schools and addressing development in Central and Kendall squares are all top priorities.

“This city demands a lot, the public demands a lot from government,” Rossi said.

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