Finance Veteran Steps into City Manager Role
BY ROBIN JOVANOVICH
Residents in the audience at the October 16 City Council meeting were among the first to learn that Greg Usry, who has chaired the City’s Finance Committee for the last two years, had accepted the offer to become Rye’s new city manager. That morning, Marcus Serrano, who was hired by the previous administration in June 2015, tendered his resignation. Serrano will remain as a paid consultant through November 15, and, under the terms of his agreement, will receive four months’ severance plus health benefits.
While Mayor Josh Cohn furnished no details regarding Mr. Serrano’s departure, which was not unexpected in some quarters, he was brimming with enthusiasm about the City’s newest department head.
“Greg not only brings 30 years of experience in municipal finance, but also has executive experience, and he knows our city, our city staff, our challenges. Through his leadership of the Finance Committee, he’s been watching the way the City works for the last two years,” said the mayor.
The timing of Usry’s arrival is, in some ways, ideal. It’s budget season and the 2020-21 preliminary budget will be presented next month.
Mayor Cohn added, “Greg has a leg up. He was already focused on the budget.”
While Usry’s new title is “interim” City Manager, he signed a two-year agreement and will receive the same annual compensation as his predecessor, $195,000. Usry has earned the confidence of the Council, and the mayor confirmed that they are “taking a breather” before considering a further search.
The morning after the Council meeting, Usry was at his desk at City Hall.
We caught up with him before he went into a long day of meetings with staff members from every department.
“I’m delighted that I have the time to take on this job,” he said brightly.
While there is a learning curve with every new assignment, Usry is not in unfamiliar territory. “I’ve been through last year’s budget and been active and involved with the Capital Improvements Plan.” What excites him is that the City is finally in a position to move a number of long-deferred infrastructure projects off the list and into the pipeline. “We have a tremendous undertaking in the next two to three years.”
Usry understands that the job of city manager encompasses more than financial decisions. “I have great respect for the City staff and the incredible work they do. My job will be to try and create an environment that allows the department heads to be the most efficient.”
A 20-year Rye resident, Usry and his wife raised their three sons here. Up until three years ago, he worked in all aspects of municipal finance. For the past decade the Clemson University graduate has also worked for a real estate development company involved with historic renovation projects in Tennessee.