Three Longtime City Staffers Retire

By Beacon Staff

There are fundamental aspects of every city government. Finances, public safety and public works are three of them. Each provides elemental and essential services within a community. Their importance usually goes unnoticed until the need arises. But it’s at those critical times when their worth is fully realized.

Kalispell’s city government is experiencing a transition. As a new city manager is arriving, three longtime city employees with almost 100 years of collective experience are retiring. Fred Zavodny is retiring from the public works department after 33 years. Amy Robertson is retiring as the finance director after 27 years. Roger Krauss is retiring as full-time assistant police chief after 38 years but will remain working for the city part-time.

The retirements represent a changing of the guard of sorts. Thirty years ago barely 10,000 people lived in Kalispell. Hutton Ranch still resembled a ranch. City infrastructure and finances were noticeably outdated.

Robertson, who was lured to Kalispell by Glacier National Park, began in 1985 and helped establish the city’s modern finances, which at the time were a mess. Since becoming finance director, Kalispell has received good, clean audits. She recently oversaw the refinancing of several general obligation bonds that is estimated to save the city roughly $2.5 million over the next 15 years. The refinancing will begin reducing residents’ property taxes and show up on November’s bill.

“We are reducing taxes. Not by a lot, but we are doing it,” Mayor Tammi Fisher said at a recent council meeting. “This is a fabulous way for Amy to go out on retirement.”

Zavodny, who was also lured by the local amenities, namely fly fishing, joined the city’s public works department when a sizeable chunk of the city’s infrastructure dated back almost 100 years.

It felt like “they handed me this giant puzzle with thousands of pieces but with no picture of what it’s supposed to look like,” he said. “I finally put the last piece in. Some pieces have taken years and year to get in.”

And as he learned through the years, “Every scoop of dirt you take on a construction project is an adventure.”

Zavodny’s fingerprints are all across town, from sidewalks to streets to crosswalks. There have been big, noticeable developments, like Meridian and Hutton Ranch. But like a puzzle, every piece, small or large, is important.

“I think that’s the accomplishment: all those small pieces put together to complete a puzzle, from one corner of town to the other,” he said. “I think that’s the big picture. The small accomplishments add up to so much more.”

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