Front Royal town manager leaving for Manassas

Steve Burke

FRONT ROYAL – Town Manager Steve Burke plans to step down as head of the Front Royal government later this month.

Warren County Supervisor and former Town Councilman Thomas Sayre said Tuesday morning at the Board of Supervisors meeting that Burke intends to take a job with the city of Manassas. While Town Council members and staff received word from Burke on Monday via email, Sayre broke the news before the town made a public announcement.

Burke begins work as director of public works with Manassas on Nov. 28, according to information from a city spokeswoman. His new salary will be $130,000. His salary as town manager is $122,600. Burke did not respond to requests for comments Tuesday.

“Lastly, I have with sadness to report apparently Steve Burke is moving on as town manager of Front Royal and has taken a new job with the city of Manassas,” Sayre said at the meeting. He added that Burke’s last day on the job will be Nov. 25. “… and I will miss my dear friend and I wish you the best, Steve.”

Town Mayor Tim Darr said Tuesday that Burke submitted his letter of resignation Monday. However, Darr voiced anger that Sayre would disclose the information in a public meeting before town officials could announce the news.

“We received his letter of resignation yesterday and I sent it out to council members yesterday,” Darr said. “I, too, had heard that Mr. Sayre had announced it at the Board of Supervisors meeting which, to be honest with you, for lack of better words, I just completely don’t understand why a member of the Board of Supervisors would make that announcement publicly when we as a town hadn’t had a meeting or an opportunity to do so.

“I spoke to Steve last night and several times yesterday on the phone and he’s seeking a better career opportunity,” Darr added.. “I’m pleased for him. I’m excited for him but I don’t understand Mr. Sayre’s role in publicly announcing something that, for a lack of better word, is not his or the Board of Supervisors’ place to do so.”

Darr went on to say that he understands Burke’s decision to move on given his career path.

Outgoing Councilman Bret Hrbek echoed Darr’s comments.

“I wish him the best,” Hrbek said. “We haven’t really had a chance to talk to him any more than just getting his notification that he took a new position. I didn’t even realize that it went public actually.”

The city of Manassas announced Burke’s hiring Tuesday afternoon as director of public works. He will oversee the department’s operations, including streets, traffic controls, vehicle maintenance, buildings and grounds, cemeteries, horticulture, stormwater and trash and recycling programs. Burke brings more than 20 years of experience in local government, first with Pinellas County, Florida, then with Front Royal, where he worked as town engineer, interim director of planning and zoning, director of public works and director of environmental services.

Burke’s contract renewed on the anniversary date of his hiring as town manager in August, Darr said. The contract renews automatically unless council decides not to renew it, he explained.

Council appointed Burke to the post in early August 2011. Sayre and then Councilman N. Shae Parker did not attend the meeting in which members agreed to hire Burke, who had served as interim town manager. Council appointed Burke to the interim position after members voted 3-2 in September 2010 to fire then Town Manager J. Michael Graham following a review of the official’s “overall performance.” Sayre missed the vote on Graham’s contract.

Burke holds a bachelor of science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida and serves as a member of the International City/County Management Association and the Virginia Local Government Management Association.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com.