Getting to Know Winooski City Manager Katherine Decarreau ("Deac")

February 02, 2010

Getting to Know
Winooski City Manager
Katherine  Decarreau ("Deac")

*What do you see as your greatest challenge in Winooski?
The biggest challenge is obviously the budget. We faced a significant deficit this year and had to cut deeply to balance our spending with expected revenues. But that is only part of the challenge. The bigger part is in making cuts that are needed without taking our eyes of the future. It is too easy to retrench, put our heads down, and miss the opportunities that are always at the heart of every challenge. It is the latter part of the work that I feel is most important.

*What do you think is Winooski's biggest asset?
We are growing. We have a new downtown, and lots of young people moving in. We have a diverse population that allows for a city feel in a small town. Most people still get recognized by name at City Hall. It’s a cool mix and not one you are likely to find. I would also point out the artists that live in town. We are starting our Year of Art celebration. This is a fabulous artist mecca. I really look forward to seeing art displays, film nights, and some live music at the Block Gallery.

*What are a couple of priorities that you'll tackle in your new position there?
We need to update our financial practices. It’s tough for relatively small towns to have to deal with complicated accounting requirements. We are working with an accountant to update our policies and procedures to help us comply with the expectation of banks and granting agencies.

Along with that, we need to work with the developers in the downtown to get some businesses in place. Community College of Vermont will open in June, and by fall we will be seeing 2,500 additional trips to Winooski every day. Those students will want coffee and pastry or lunch. They will have small errands. I spend a lot of time working toward that development.

Finally, I look at the needs of the people that live here. Winooski has always welcomed immigrants – including my ancestors who spoke only French in 1835 when they arrived here. I look forward to working with the entire community on building on that reputation. My ancestors worked in the mill. One grandfather became a supervisor; the other was City Clerk here. I was a first generation college student and received a master’s degree. I have one nephew who is a doctor of physical therapy and another who will get his doctorate in biochemistry. This town is a place where that can happen. I want to make sure other families have the same opportunities we had.

*How long have you lived in Winooski?
I have never left. I can still walk to every place I ever lived in fifteen minutes on a good day. On my mother’s side, we go back to 1835. Roots are very deep.

*If you had a Sunday afternoon off, how would you choose to spend your time?
I spend them outdoors whenever possible. Hiking, biking, snowshoeing, or just walking to downtown Burlington for a cup of tea. I don’t think I was meant to work indoors sitting….

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