Q&A: Sit Down with Jack Berry

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Jack Berry was considered the front runner for the Richmond Mayor position throughout much of the race. Now the Richmond mayoral candidate has accepted a new leadership position in Petersburg.

Jack Berry was hired as Petersburg’s Interim Assistant City Manager by Interim City Manager Tom Tyrrell and the Robert Bobb consulting group.  They are  working with the city to help improve its finances and dig them out of the hole past leadership left them in with poor decision making. Berry served 10 years as the executive director at Venture Richmond, as well as six years as the county administrator for Hanover County. 

The Bobb Group has 90 days left on their contract with Petersburg so it’s not really clear how long Berry will be with Petersburg.  Jack Berry sat in the audience on Tuesday night in his first week on the job.  He watched as City Council members discussed the future budget and argued with the City Attorney over real estate.

The biggest takeaway from this budget session for a lot of people is one part of the proposed budget.   It will give Firefighters, Police, and Emergency Communications Officers the full salary they used to receive.   First responders were included in the 10% pay cut for city employees.  If this is approved the increase will start in April 2017.  The Fire Department seems to have been hit the hardest with equipment repossessions and firefighters leaving the department.  Several pieces of equipment has malfunctioned and they have gone without EMS vehicles for extended periods of time.  They are receiving help from all across the area from responding to calls to borrowing equipment.  After the meeting Berry spoke with Style Weekly. 


Style: What do you see as Petersburg’s biggest challenge in the next 30 days?

Berry: Resolve the structural problem in the budget and get to a situation where revenues equal expenditures. They’ve been overspending for years. And it’s clearly not sustainable. So we can get that squared away and they’re well on their way, as you can see tonight, that would be a really big gift to the city.

All these jobs are big jobs. But it’s all doable. There’re lots of opportunities to take advantage of and right the ship and get us back to even, so that going forward we don’t have these burdens we’re carrying — of prior deficits and vendors that weren’t paid.

Then you go forward with a balanced budget and good leadership, good management. There are a lot of vacant positions that will get filled soon. And if that’s a strong team, I think Petersburg has really good days ahead.

Click here for the full interview.

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