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Tuesday, 15 August 2017 10:15

Sundstrom to retire as Grand Rapids City Manager

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Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom COURTESY PHOTO

GRAND RAPIDS — Long-time Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom said today that he plans to retire from his position at the end of the year.

After eight years as city manager and 35 years in municipal government, Sundstrom said in a statement that he believes he’s fulfilled his duties as CEO of the state’s second-largest city.

“I promised that I would work tirelessly, inspire the best from our employees, and listen to our citizens,” Sundstrom wrote in a letter to Mayor Rosalynn Bliss. “I insisted that we use common sense to bust bureaucracy, that we work transparently with our residents to make inclusive and equitable decisions, and that we innovate, be willing to take risks, be held accountable, and that we do this all quickly with great customer service. I would like to report, that to the best of my ability, I have fulfilled my pledge and promise.”

Sundstrom is expected to formally announce his intentions at Tuesday morning’s city commission meeting.

Bliss said in a statement that the city plans to engage search firms to assist with the recruitment and hiring process for Sundstrom’s replacement, as well as work with community members for their input.

“Greg has dedicated his life to public service and I am grateful for his leadership,” Bliss said in a statement. “It has been a joy to work with him over the years; and I appreciate all he has done for the organization and our community. I wish him well as he transitions to a new phase in his life.”

WOOD TV8 first reported the news earlier this morning. Sundstrom told the local television station that if it were a friend who came to be in the running to replace him, he would advise against him taking the position, noting the long hours and calling it a “tough job.”

Sundstrom and other city officials, including recently retired CFO Scott Buhrer, have been lauded for guiding the city through the Great Recession, a period during which tax revenues dropped off significantly for local units of government.

In Grand Rapids, municipal executives engaged in layoffs, negotiated with public-sector unions and focused on stability in its long-term pension obligations, Buhrer told MiBiz in 2016. As a result, Grand Rapids went from projected deficits of more than $30 million to reserves of about $30 million.

“I think that the city’s financial condition right now is more solid than it has been in anybody’s collective memory,” Buhrer said last year. “We are in much better position in terms of our ability to sustain services when the next economic downturn comes.”

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Nick Manes

Staff writer

nmanes@mibiz.com

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