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Goodbye to City Manager Toby Futrell

Thursday, February 14, 2008 by Austin Monitor

Today is the last day Toby Futrell will sit on the dais. After nearly six years of presiding over honors and retirements for others, Austin’s most popular city manager in decades says she wants no fanfare or parting ceremony.


As she approached her last days as Austin’s city manager, Futrell told In Fact Daily, “The beauty of retirement is you don’t have to have any set plans. So for a little while, I’m going to try to not have any set plans. We’re going to take a break, go stick our feet in the sand.”


Futrell said she and her husband, Don, just want to take a breather. They have purchased a small house on the water in the Corpus Christi suburb called Flour Bluff. They plan to do some fishing.


Evidently, the area has a reputation. Residents call themselves bluff rats. Now, Futrell says she and her husband have a bumper sticker that says, “I’m a bluff rat.” They do plan to build a larger house in the future, but at the moment they are updating their home in Austin to make it more attractive to prospective buyers.


She will also finish teaching her class at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.


Council Member Brewster McCracken told In Fact Daily, “The AAA bond rating that the City of Austin received (recently) is the capstone of the phenomenal financial performance she created as city manager. It’s hard to remember how dire the city’s finances were only six years ago when she took over.” At the time, June 2002, Austin was facing a $72 million budget deficit.


“Everything that S&P cited as the rationale for the AAA bond rating were things that she instituted as city manager. Also, she worked legendarily hard—but the entire organization did. I’ve said this before but the City of Austin is the hardest working organization I’ve ever been a part of, including several very demanding law firms,” McCracken said.


Council Member Lee Leffingwell said because of Futrell’s skill in guiding the city’s finances, “there will be adequate reserves to see us through downturns in the future. We won’t be caught napping like we were in 2001. I think her fiscal policy has been sound and conservative and very appropriate for this city. Beyond that, I would say that she’s been a very dynamic leader. She really cares about her employees and that’s shown in many different ways. And her energy is seemingly boundless and she’s going to be difficult to replace in terms of her work output and her dedication to the employees of the City of Austin.”


Twenty-three years ago when Futrell took a job as a clerk in the Health and Human Services Department, she could not have guessed where she would end up. (She actually has nearly 30 years of city service.) Futrell said, “I feel honored to have been city manager of this city. I’m extraordinarily proud of what we’ve accomplished in these years and extraordinarily proud of this city’s employees who helped accomplish it. It’s just been my privilege to work with people of the caliber of the city employees. I love this city—so it’s just been an honor and a privilege. It’s been a bittersweet year but I wouldn’t change a thing–I wouldn’t change a thing,” she said.

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