Auburn town manager to retire, closing stellar career
Julie Jacobson has spent thirty-seven years in municipal government including the past eleven as town manager in Auburn. She will retire in January.
By JANET STOICA
After eleven years steering the ship of Auburn, Julie Jacobson will be saying goodbye to the town on January 30, 2023. Her triumphs and successes as town manager as well as any unfinished business will now be built on by her successor, Edward Kazanovicz, who is currently the town’s chief financial officer and assistant town manager.
Formerly assistant city manager in Worcester, Ms. Jacobson assumed the leadership role of managing the town of Auburn’s welfare in 2011. “Grant writing was one of my main goals to bring in new revenue to the town,” said Ms. Jacobson. “I wanted us to aggressively seek and secure grant funding. We’ve applied for 391 grants worth over $30 million and we’ve been awarded 340 of them totaling $16 million. All de Do you have Seasonal Affective Disorder (otherwise known as SAD)? Although I am not a psychiatrist nor do I hold a medical degree, I wanted to write an article about the emotions we all partments write their own grants as we have no town grant writer. All department heads and employees are encouraged to actively seek grant funding and I’m proud of our department heads for accomplishing this. There has been no additional burden on the town’s taxpayers.”
Ms. Jacobson explained that if not for the grant funding the monies would come out of the town’s capital improvement projects funds. All grants are tracked with Excel spreadsheets in a collaborative effort across all town departments. “Our employees have been just great at this,” she said, “they are all educated in grant writing and have become very proficient.”
Ms. Jacobson reviewed some of the town’s accomplishments including the introduction of many new businesses and the startup of a business roundtable to bring together business leaders to listen to their concerns and suggestions. “We’ve seen great industrial growth in the past nine-ten years,” she said, “town bylaws were reviewed and modified to become more business friendly.”
“We have a lot of exciting projects going on in Auburn right now too,” stated Ms. Jacobson. “The former Julia Bancroft School on Vinal Street has been transformed into senior housing that includes 60 apartment units of affordable housing. Eight of those units will be offered at market rate. Our former Mary D. Stone School was converted into senior housing apartments as well and opened in 2021. The beautiful stone façade was nicely preserved and redeveloped with much thoughtful design accommodations, the original blackboards were preserved and even the children’s coat hangers were used as a nice touch and a nod to the past.” If and when town seniors decide to down-size and perhaps become senior housing dwellers, their homes will be available for younger families seeking their first new residences. The timely circle of life’s residencies will be fulfilled.
Ms. Jacobson remarked about the current $5.4 million road project in Drury Square and elaborated that the improvements were primarily a state project but the town did pay $1 million of the costs for street-scaping, benches, and walkways. “It’s almost finished,” she said, “The renovation of Goddard Park will be a great accomplishment too. We hope to get the Goddard Rocket Fountain into working order again, along with the cleanup of Auburn Pond by the library. We’ll be building a pedestrian bridge and walkway from the library to Goddard Park and adding a much-deserved sunroom to the library. Of the park, pond, and library improvements, the total project cost is $1.5 million. Auburn taxpayers will fund $500,000 of the total with additional funding provided by the Pappas Foundation and other grant monies. These improvements will go out to bid in spring 2023 with completion expected in 18 months.
“My retirement from the town of Auburn will be bittersweet,” said Ms. Jacobson. “There have been so many good experiences and great people here but I made the decision to spend time with my family at this stage of my life. I have two grandchildren now and want to spend time with them. I want to enjoy family time. After thirty-seven years in government, it’s now time for family. I love municipal government and would like to communicate my feelings of gratification and fulfillment to those young people who are considering their first employment choices after completing their schooling. Our towns and cities need the younger generation to know what great careers they would have if they consider working for their own municipalities.”
Additionally, Ms. Jacobson noted that “The Select Board voted to appoint Ed Kazanovicz as the next town manager effective January 31st. Currently the assistant town manager/chief financial officer, Ed and I have worked together since I started in January of 2011. Ed has been with the town for twenty-seven years and has worn multiple hats here, many simultaneously: assistant town manager, chief financial officer, town accountant (until one year ago), and as CFO he is the department head overseeing the Town Accountant’s Office, Treasurer/Collectors Office and Assessor’s Office. Over the past twelve years, Ed has worked closely with me on a variety of projects, initiatives and issues ranging from economic development to human resources to collective bargaining. He is responsible for all aspects of financial management, including preparation of the 5 Year CIP annually, the 5 Year Budget Forecasts annually, and the Annual Operating Budget. He is the acting town manager in my absence. Mr. Kazanovicz is an experienced, skilled professional who is well prepared to assume the role of town manager when I retire.”
Bon Voyage, Julie Jacobson, the Town of Auburn thanks you for your great leadership! May the wind be always at your back!
“Often when you are at the end of something, you are at the beginning of something else.”
– Fred Rogers
Contact Janet: [email protected]