58.5 F
The Villages
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Few could rival work ethic of Villages District Manager Janet Tutt

District Manager Janet Tutt announced her retirement last week, and to say that she’ll be missed is a huge understatement at best.

In case you aren’t aware of it, Tutt spent 13 years in your local District government, starting in 2005 when she joined the team as community development district co-manager. Two-and-a-half years later, she moved into the top spot when then-District Manager Pete Wahl retired.

District Manager Janet Tutt, center, with CDD Supervisors Peter Moeller, left, and Joe Elliott at a reception for District employees in December 2014.

Since Tutt’s first day on the job, she’s spent countless hours making sure local government in The Villages performs at the top of its game. And until she turns out the lights July 9, don’t expect her to do anything less. That’s just who Janet Tutt is and that’s not going to change.

Now before we go forward, we want to make it clear that we believe Tutt’s replacement, Assistant District Manager Richard Baier, will do an excellent job. He’s been her top deputy for just under a year and brings a wealth of experience to the table. From time spent as an assistant Sumter County administrator and public works director to director of transportation and environmental services in Alexandria, Va., Baier, a Villages resident, is well-qualified for the job.

But just like Tutt faced when replacing Wahl, he will have some huge shoes to fill.
For instance, Tutt led the District through a protracted, oftentimes nonsensical battle with the Internal Revenue Service over an audit of recreational revenue bonds. She started a program called Welcome Wednesday to help provide information to residents. And when Hurricane Irma roared through Central Florida this past September, she was hunkered down in The Villages Public Safety’s Emergency Operations Center 24/7 to make sure government was up and running – no matter what was happening outside.

District Manager Janet Tutt, center in pink glasses, joins Ann Forrester, Amenity Authority Committee chair, left; John Rohan, Villages director of recreation; and others at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new El Santiago Recreation Center in December 2015.

Frankly, if we attempted to list every one of Tutt’s accomplishment, we’d still be writing this piece a week from now. So let’s just say that addressing residents’ concerns lived at the top of her priority list. She was extremely loyal to her staff – a trait we find admirable in managers. And she never was afraid to speak her mind, even it meant taking a proverbial punch or two from angry residents who didn’t always agree with her – again, an attribute we respect in leaders.

Of course, one of Tutt’s biggest strengths – and perhaps her finest quality – was her ability to work alongside Community Development District supervisors in 12 districts, as well as those who serve on the boards of the Village Center Community Development District, Sumter Landing Community Development District, Brownwood Community Development District and the Amenity Authority Committee. Toss in the 14 departments her office oversees and you’re talking about a manager who must be able to successfully work alongside hundreds of different types of personalities sporting a plethora of agendas and ideas.

District Manager Janet Tutt tries out the exercise equipment during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Paradise Park B in January 2015.

Tutt possesses that ability – something few managers bring to the table on a daily basis. It’s one of the main reasons she’s held the job as District manager for 13 years. And it’s certainly a good part of the reason she enjoyed a successful career as Marion County’s deputy administrator before coming to The Villages.

Not surprisingly, we haven’t always seen eye to eye with Tutt, who graduated from Marquette University in 1972 after studying journalism. No true media operation ever agrees with everything a government official does. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t respect the job she’s done and the many accomplishments that belong beside her name.

When Tutt announced her retirement last Wednesday during a meeting of the VCCDD Board of Supervisors, she did so through a letter that was clearly hard for her to write. She talked about how it’s difficult to say goodbye to good friends, which is what she considers her co-workers, elected officials and the residents she’s served. And she pointed out how rewarding the past 13 years have been.

From left: Project Wide Advisory Committee Chairman Peter Moeller, District Manager Janet Tutt and Scott Wilder of Community Watch monitor traffic on Colony Boulevard in October 2013.

But in typical Tutt fashion, when it came time to address successes, she deflected the credit to those she works with – “it was our dedicated team of employees, elected officials and so many individual residents, and groups like the VHA, who worked cooperatively to make the District a success.”

Finally, let’s remember one more important thing about Tutt’s tenure. This community has been in an all-out growth mode since she walked in the door in 2005. Hers was never one of those cushy government jobs that involved short hours and lots of rounds of golf. It was one that required her attention at all hours of the day and night in ways many of us can only imagine.

That’s something that two CDD supervisors appreciated about Tutt.

“It’s a difficult job. It’s like walking a tightrope,” said CDD 7 Supervisor Jerry Vicenti. “You’ve got the Developer on one side and then there are the residents. My hat’s off to Janet. She did a great job.”

From left: District Manager Janet Tutt, Sumter County Sheriff’s Lt. Nehemiah Wolfe, VHA member Sandy Mott and Sumter County Dep. Jimmy Little at Wolfe’s retirement party in September 2015.

CDD 3 Supervisor Gail Lazenby agreed.

“This is bittersweet,” he said. “I don’t know anyone that deserves a retirement more than she does. But I don’t know that we have seen anyone as capable. Personally, I think she has done a tremendous, magnificent, phenomenal job.”

We second that motion, and we wish Tutt the best going forward. We sincerely hope she takes the time to do the things she’s always dreamed about. And while she’s having fun with family and friends, we hope she’ll occasionally take a moment to look back on her years in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown and realize what a huge difference she made for so many people who came here to enjoy the best years of their lives.

District Manager Janet Tutt joins other dignitaries and residents at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the newly renovated Southside Recreation Center in February 2014.

Vietnam veterans grateful for community support

An official with Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 1036 is grateful for community support. Read his Letter to the Editor.

Serious top-down management failure in The Villages

In a Letter to the Editor, a Village of Collier resident has been studying the golf course crisis in The Villages and has concluded there has been a serious top-down management failure.

Let them keep the fence!

A Village of Palo Alto resident, in a Letter to the Editor, expresses support for a couple in The Villages fighting to keep a fence to keep out elements of the outside world.

There are truly wonderful people in The Villages

In a Letter to the Editor, a Village of DeLuna resident expresses thanks for a kind couple who did him a huge favor. He does not know them, but he is very grateful.

Thank You Marsha Shearer

A Village of Piedmont resident expresses his thanks to Marsha Shearer for information in her recent Opinion piece. But we sense a little sarcasm.