April 14, 2021
Todd Odit is excited to get started as the first manager of the town of Hinesburg. Odit officially begins on April 22. Prior to this role, he was administrator of the town of Jericho.
The town manager position is new to Hinesburg, which has only had town administrators in the past. The position was created by a vote on Town Meeting Day 2021.
“Being the first town manager in Hinesburg, I’d like to prove that the town manager form of government was the right step for them,” said Odit.
When Odit applied for the position, the town of Hinesburg had not yet voted on Article 3, the ballot item that would determine its form of government. The Hinesburg selectboard began their search prior to Town Meeting Day, and candidates like Odit came into the interview process knowing that the position could be either town administrator or town manager. On March 10, following the Town Meeting Day vote to install a Manager at the helm, they offered him a two-year contract.
“The town manager brings a little extra responsibility in terms of statutory authority. It really shifts a lot of the responsibility onto the manager so the selectboard can focus on policy,” said Odit.
Odit has 18 years of municipal government experience but being a town manager wasn’t always his plan. Odit went to Vermont Law School for a master’s degree in environmental law. “My thought was always that I would go into state government and environmental policy,” said Odit. “But right after graduate school, I got a job with the Vermont League of Cities and Towns as a Senior Legislative Associate for municipalities and found it to be really interesting.”
Odit said that a lot of the issues municipalities find themselves involved in are related to the environment, so his education is applicable. “I think the biggest help was probably my graduate degree,” he said. “There are a lot of laws to work within and it is important to understand the regulations.”
In 2005, Odit got the opportunity to be the assistant town manager in Essex where he says he gained a lot of valuable experience. “Shortly after I got there, they were talking about merging the town and village of Essex,” said Odit. “This required a deep dive into local governance. It was a good experience looking into how municipalities operate, their differences, how you might be able to bring them together, consolidate services, and create efficiencies. I also gained experience negotiating union contracts with the police department, as well as the other employees who were covered by a separate union.”
Odit went on to become town administrator of Jericho in 2009, the position he held prior to Hinesburg manager. In that time, he also participated in the competitive Harvard Kennedy School’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program.
“I really enjoy leading a town, helping boards figure out what it is they want to accomplish and how to accomplish it, and overseeing the operations.”
When asked why he was attracted to Hinesburg, Odit said, “I really like working in smaller towns and getting to know people. Hinesburg just seemed to be a really good fit given the planning issues they’re facing. It’s basically the same size as Jericho but with more services under the town’s belt which include fire, water, sewer, and a police department. It just felt like a really appropriate, good next step.”
Odit added that “having a really solid understanding of planning will help with trying to concentrate Hinesburg’s growth and also some of the issues that come along with that.”
He mentioned considerations like emergency services, town water, and wastewater management as areas that will need to be addressed with this growth.
“All of these have a substantial price tag,” said Odit. “It’s going to be an interesting exercise in trying to accommodate for that growth but also providing the services at a reasonable expense.”
In his free time, Odit enjoys downhill skiing, sailing, mountain biking, hiking, and being involved with his kids’ sports. He also remains active in his own community of Essex as a member of the Essex Westford School District School Board and the Nordic Soccer Club board.
“I really like paying back the community I live in,” said Odit.
Odit’s last day as town administrator of Jericho was April 16, 2021. He is grateful for his time there and hopes he can have a long career in Hinesburg.
“I want to make sure that Hinesburg operates effectively and efficiently and that the town is able to achieve its goals. Any way I’m able to help them do that, I will.”
Editor’s note: This article is by Maddy Holden, a reporter with the Community News Service, a collaboration with the University of Vermont’s Reporting & Documentary Storytelling program.