November 07, 2012LINCOLN — Thirty-eight years of service to New Hampshire towns is quite a lot. That is how long Alfred "Butch" Burbank has been working in various capacities in the state. He started his job as Lincoln's Town Manager last week.
Burbank takes over for Peter Joseph, who became town manager in Freeport, Maine nearly two months ago. Burbank noted that the work of his predecessor and current town employees were a great benefit when his Lincoln tenure started on October 29.
Service has been key to Burbank. He has been dealing with municipal issues "pretty much my adult working life," he noted. Although he thought he was retired in 2003, he felt the pull of service call him back.
For the last nine years, Burbank worked as a Health and Safety Advisor for the Local Government Center, based in Concord. He also worked in Waterville Valley as a police officer for 27 years. Burbank also has experience as a firefighter.
With his obvious interest in town government, Burbank seemed a natural to run for selectman. In March, he will close out service as Thornton's Chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
His skills will certainly come in handy for Lincoln's residents. Replacement of the Loon Mountain bridge is a major item currently on Burbank's front burner. A temporary bridge currently stands. The original structure was destroyed after heavy rains from Tropical Storm Irene over a year ago.
Burbank said that funding for the bridge project is still undergoing federal review. "It's in FEMA's hands right now," Burbank noted.
In dealing with all the steps in a complicated process like the bridge replacement, Burbank knows the need for patience. A town manager is charged with "keeping your thumb on what's going on without being overbearing," he said.
Progress on the bridge has been complicated by the workload that Hurricane Irene created for FEMA. "They're inundated," Burbank said.
The bridge is a key item for the town, Burbank continued. Tourism and the resort community are "so key to the economic well-being of this community," he added.
"Tourism is our bread and butter," Burbank said. For any town, but especially one like Lincoln, Burbank believes a town manager has a role in "promoting harmony between town government and your business interests."
Working with people on business expansion is one way to facilitate that goal, Burbank believes. He said that a family has moved their business from Massachusetts to the Lincoln Industrial Park. Burbank believes the town can work with employers who want to bring their businesses to the area.
With extensive service in public safety, Burbank looks forward to working with the fire and police departments, which he will oversee. Because of their importance to the town, Burbank wants to ensure the departments have the necessary resources.
As a current Selectman in Thornton, Burbank has a good feel for how to work with the Board of Selectmen in Lincoln. "It's a team effort," Burbank said. Although he takes direction from the board, the town manager is "responsible for the day-to-day operations" of the town, he added.
A primary aspect of a town manager's job is oversight of the approved budget. He stepped into the job in Lincoln just as the town is ramping up its budget planning. "We're into it full tilt," Burbank said. Lincoln's budget committee, rather than the Board of Selectmen, submits the proposed budget to voters.
In his role of budget oversight, Burbank will focus on value for residents. He said that a town manager must "make sure the taxpayers are getting the most bang for the buck."
Another part of the job of interest to Burbank is the strong bond between Lincoln and Woodstock. "The two communities are so closely interwoven, Burbank said. "They work very closely together."