For the past 16 years, when the Town of Lovettsville got into a pinch, Samuel Finz usually got the call.
He has served the town in some way or other since 2005. The veteran municipal manager served as the town’s planning director, four times as interim town manager, once as the town manager, and in various roles as a consultant and advisor. He led the recruitment effort each time the town has sought to hire a new town manager—including the current effort aimed at finding a permanent replacement before he retires, once again, in October. The Town Council interviewed candidates for the post last week.
On Tuesday, the Town Council paid tribute to his service by formally naming the town’s newly completed municipal complex in his honor.
It was a surprise announcement kept secret from Finz until the unveiling of the sign. That effort required the council to convene a special meeting during the dedication ceremony to adopt the resolution formally naming the complex in Finz’s honor and voting to adopt it in front of the large crowd of community members gathered for the dedication ceremony.
While Finz’s influence can be found on virtually all aspects of the town’s government—from its strategic plan to its restructured town ordinances—the expanded town hall project has been among the most challenging of his tenure. The need was first acknowledged 13 years ago when a temporary office trailer was leased to provide more staff space. Subsequent town councils couldn’t find the money or support the debt service to move an expansion project forward. It was only when the trailer manufacturer warned the structure was subject to collapse that the project moved forward.
In addition to a town resolution listing Finz’s accomplishments, County Administrator Tim Hemstreet was invited to speak, recounting the time 28 years ago when he was a young budget analyst in Hollywood, FL, where Finz was then the city manager.
While he described Finz as an exacting taskmaster, Hemstreet also recalled the career advice he shared, including learning the inner workings at every level of government by doing the work.
“Understand that you need to know everything that goes on in the government,” he said. “You need to know and understand what everybody does because that is a key component of knowing what the answers are at the time the council or the elected body is going to ask you a question. You also need to know when the staff is telling you something that doesn’t make sense. And the only way to do that is to do everything yourself at one point in your career.”
Both men ultimately returned to local government service in Northern Virginia.
“You couldn’t have a finer individual as your on again, off again interim manager,” Hemstreet said.
Finz said he was incredibly surprised by the honor.
He first came to the town in 2005 and helped Mayor Elaine Walker create the post and hire the first town’s first manager. He was soon back to help find his replacement and then the replacement for him. “We hired one town manager and then when that person moved on we hired the second, and then the third and the fourth, and it seemed to be never-ending. But that’s OK folks. In this profession you don’t stay for hundreds of years; you stay for a period of time, you make your contribution and you move on,” Finz said.
“I’ve done the same thing. I’ve moved on, but in this case, I’ve come back several times,” he added. “I’ve given it my best and my all and I hope it was good enough. I’m honored.”