Bryan Healy starts his tenure as the new Village Manager of Croton-on-Hudson on Aug. 9, 2021, and don’t let his status as a fresh-faced Millennial fool you. Driven by an earnest work ethic, he’s already logged some serious miles, having spent nearly half his young life in public service.
The 30-year-old’s career began his senior year in high school, when he started working part-time for the Parks and Recreation department in Hastings-on-Hudson, where he still resides.
After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Fordham University, he was an office manager for Information Technology (IT) at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, followed by administrative posts for the Town of Bedford’s Supervisor, Police Chief, and Clerk, ultimately landing in Croton-on-Hudson in 2018 as Secretary to the Village Manager.
Healy projects a professional demeanor that is at once business-like and affable. He explains the role of Village Manager in simple, direct terms. “Croton operates under a manager-council form of government,” he told River Journal North. “The Board of Trustees hires the Village Manager and sets policy, and the Village Manager implements that policy. If the Board decides to take action, the Manager determines how that action is taken.”
He adds that, in his new role, “If I felt the Board was not making the best decision, I would give my opinion.”
The foremost challenge faced by Croton-on-Hudson as he takes the reins, says Healy, is one that’s endemic to the pandemic: a revenue shortfall.
He points to the almost $2 million in lost income for fiscal year June 1, 2020-May 31, 2021, a casualty of the deserted parking lot of the Croton-Harmon Metro North train station, as commuters who filled the Village’s coffers by parking there daily instead were hunkered down at home during the pandemic.
That substantial source of funding already was baked into expenditures for Croton’s 2021-2022 fiscal budget, so the anticipated revenue that wasn’t generated from parking lot fees now will have to be appropriated from the Village’s cash reserves (or “fund balance”), a stop-gap measure which, acknowledges Healy, “is not a sustainable practice.” Tapping into that money would significantly reduce the current fund balance of $5 million.
He added that “If parking does not come back in any meaningful fashion by the end of this year, the board and I will need to have hard discussions about what we’re going to do.“
One remedy on the table, he said, is for the Village to sell the so-called “Katz property” at 41-51 Maple Street, which is expected to fetch upwards of $2 million. “That will help to replenish a lot of the fund balance we took out,” says Healy, “but that’s a one-hit piece of revenue. We’re not going to sell property every year.”
He says one of his priorities coming into the new job is to continue working closely “with our robust business community,” represented by the Croton Business Council that late Village trustee John Habib “was instrumental in re-starting,” says Healy.
“One concrete thing we did is to help mixed-use development [retail and residential use] by rezoning the North Riverside area and Municipal Place Gateway [location of such landmarks as Croton Commons and Croton Auto Park].”
The Village’s designation of that area as an overlay district allows for a third story to be added to certain new construction, while also keeping a ceiling on the maximum height allowed.
Another Village priority Healy cites is the Police Reform Task Force, on which he’s been working closely with Police Chief John Nikitopoulos and retiring Village Manager Janine King.
One outcome of that plan is a re-designed police patch, with an eagle replacing an Indian head as the main symbol. It is scheduled to appear on uniforms this summer. “We’re happy to be moving forward,” says Healy.
One of the ways Healy has made a difference during his three-plus years serving the Village is amping up its social media presence. When he came aboard, Croton had only a Facebook page, to which he has added Twitter and Instagram.
Managing social media is one of the functions he plans to give to Thomas Morzello, his newly-hired Assistant to Village Manager. [See separate box.]
“Listening to people” is one of the most valuable lessons Healy says he has learned over the years. “Residents and stakeholders just want to be heard a lot of times,” he says. “Even if you can’t always solve their problems. If someone was charged additional for a water bill because of a toilet leak, by statute we can’t do anything, but we need to listen, and smooth it out.”
Another focal point for Healy is “visibility.” Until working in the Municipal Building at 1 Van Wyck Street, his familiarity with Croton-on-Hudson, he says, was limited to his appointments as a youngster at Riverside Pediatrics on South Riverside Avenue.
While he has no short-term plans to relocate from Hastings-on Hudson, where he purchased a house last year, Healy places a premium on “being out in the community and being involved” in Croton. “Being visible is important,” he says, so people know he has the Village’s best interests at heart. He’s not a clock-watcher either, noting that, in his position, “You’re on the clock 24/7.”
It’s too soon to say how that might affect his extra-curricular activities, which keep him plenty busy in whatever spare time he can muster.
For the past eight years, Healy has been a volunteer firefighter, and is currently 2nd Lieutenant, with Protection Engine Co. No. 1 in the Hastings-on-Hudson Fire Department. “In the firehouse,” he says, “we tell people your family and your job come first, but I hope to continue in some capacity there because it’s very rewarding to serve.”
The new Village Manager not only has a strong sense of duty but also is passionate about his heritage. One of his main hobbies is genealogy. “I like to work on my family tree,” he says. “My grandmother got me involved with that 15 years ago. We’ve had family reunions, and connected with long lost cousins.”
Bryan has traced his grandmother’s side coming to America from Wales and Ireland in the 1800s. He learned that his grandfather’s family made it to our shores from England in the 1600s.
He credits his work ethic to two people in particular: his mother, who worked for IBM for 26 years, and the past 11 years for the Village of Hastings-on-Hudson; and his grandfather, a 30-year police detective and officer.
Healy will become Croton-on-Hudson’s fifth Village Manager, succeeding Janine King, who on the second Monday in August will pass the baton to him, capping her 24-year tenure.
Bruce Apar is Editorial Director and Associate Publisher of River Towns Media LLC.