Westlake manager splits time as school superintendent
Tom Brymer was 25 years old in 1978 when he started as Gilmer's city manager. He remembers calling the bank on pay days to make sure there was enough money in the bank to pay the city employees. Under Brymer's leadership, Gilmer went from in the red to back in the black, which allowed the city to invest in infrastructure projects.
Brymer worked in Gilmer for about seven years, then worked in Lockhart, College Station, Olathe, Kan., and now Westlake. He has served as Westlake town manager and Westlake Academy superintendent since 2008. Town Council members also serve as Westlake Academy's board of trustees. Brymer was attracted to Westlake, which owns its charter school and houses corporate offices.
"The whole idea of public service was very attractive to me, in the sense of wanting to contribute and, hopefully, leave things a little better than I found them," Brymer said.
How do you manage your time as the Westlake Town Manager and Westlake Academy Superintendent?
I've got two very good principals working there, so the superintendent part is not taking as much time as it did previously. I'd say I spend 40 or 50 percent of my time on school-related business. It ebbs and flows, just depends on the time of year.
What personal goals do you have for your work here?
I'd say implementation of our strategic plans. We have a strategic plan for the academy and we have one for the municipality as a whole. Our capital improvement plan, implementing that. We have reconstructed quite a few miles of street, but we have more to go. I think continuing to focus on service excellence, providing a high quality level of service to our citizens.
When you look at nearby communities, is there anything you'd like to duplicate here?
We are constantly scanning what cities are doing, not necessarily just here but all over the country. We are always looking for best practices. We recently put in place a balanced scorecard for measuring our service delivery that is modeled after what other cities are doing. You won't find many cities with a small sized staff doing some of the things that we are doing. We are pretty innovative.
What do you see as the city's greatest strengths, and how are you building on those?
The greatest strength, I think, is its people and its location. We have a very well educated and bright population. We are right on the 114 corridor. The pluses of this location being right near the DFW Airport, we have a lot of land that is available for development. We have high quality development standards. I think all those things put together result in Westlake having a lot going for it.
What do you see as Westlake's greatest challenge and how are you working to overcome it?
Managing our financial resources as best we know how, providing the best service we can. And that is the challenge in this day and time. The economy is improving some, but we've seen obstacles along the way including increasing the sales tax. And because we operate a public school, we rely heavily on state funding. The state decreasing funding has hurt charter schools like Westlake [Academy], as it has hurt independent school districts as well.