There were visible emotions at the Burlington Board of Selectmen's meeting last night as long-term announced his retirement. Mercier said he would officially retire in May of next year, after the passing of the FY2013 annual budget.
Mercier became Burlington's first Town Administrator in 1980 and held the position until 1986. From 1986 to 1998, Mercier held other positions outside of town; doings stints as the Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO with offices in Woburn and as the town administrator for Billerica in Boxford, before returning to Burlington.
"It is with a deep sense of personal satisfaction and thoughtful reflection as well as professional gratitude to the Board, my Department Managers, our dedicated employees, our Town Meeting members and, of course, the residents of this wonderful town that I announce my intention to retire from my position as Town Administrator," Mercier read from a letter during the meeting.
Mercier continued, saying his "overriding concern" of his announcement was to give the board sufficient time to find a replacement and create a "seamless transition." He said he would guide the town through the planning and completion of next year's budget process. He also said he would help in any manner the Selectmen wished to help with the transition.
"You can expect my continued leadership, commitment, energy level and unbridled passion for my role as Town Administrator for which I have been so fortunate to have served in for the past 12-plus years," he said. "Frankly, I have much yet to accomplish over the next seven to eight months, including the Board's own set of aggressive ."
Mercier ended by saying how difficult it is for him to leave a position he loves and the people he works with that have become his friends.
"As you can imagine, it is a difficult decision for me to leave a job as exciting, demanding and yet incredibly rewarding as the Chief Administrative Officer of a vibrant, dynamic community, but it is time for me to consider the other important parts of my life and take some time to engage in and enjoy all the wonderful aspects associated with a heavy retirement." he said. "I cannot begin to thank Burlington enough for the opportunity you provided me to work at a job that I thoroughly enjoyed and never regretted for one day as a came to work each morning. I am not sure there are many individuals who can honestly say that about their life work endeavors. For everything, very simply, thank you."
After Mercier read his retirement announcement, all the members of the Board and Assistant Town Administrator Thomas Hickey all took turns expressing their thoughts. All agreed they were saddened to hear the news, but happy for Mercier and wished him well in his retirement.
Chair of the Board Walter Zenkin said the news, which he learned earlier in the day, "shocked and saddened" him.
"He has done fantastic job, he was always on his A Game," Zenkin said. "When you have a grandchild and another possibly coming you want to spend time with your family, and I respect that. However, he will leave some big shoes to fill."
"I wish it wasn’t happening, but it is, and we thank you for everything you’ve done," Zenkin added to Mercier.
Selectman Bob Hogan, who is also Burlington's Director of Veteran Affairs, said Mercier will be missed by the town employees.
"As a department head in town, it has been a valuable resource to have Bob in that office and I think other department heads will agree," he said. "He doesn’t look over your shoulder, but he wants to know what’s going on and always has your back. We’ve also spoken about our daughters, and their success and how wonderful it is as a father to see that. I will miss you."
Hickey agreed, explaining that Mercier first hired him in 1991 and four and half years ago brought him on as the assistant Town Administrator.
"All the employees will miss Bob’s leadership and will miss having his friendly smiling face," he said. "But they won’t forget him and I’m sure his friendship with all of us will remain intact. Best of luck and thank you my friend."