Durand City Manager Colleen O’Toole submitted her resignation to the council on Thursday, Nov. 5. O’Toole has accepted another city manager position with the city of Saline in Washtenaw County – south of Ann Arbor. Having family living in northern Ohio, O’Toole was drawn to move nearer to them. O’Toole has a young daughter and wants her child to be able to play with cousins and “visit grandma and grandpa a little bit more.”
O’Toole was selected as the Durand City Manager on Wednesday, Jan 18, 2017, officially replacing longtime city manager Amy Roddy. The Durand City Council had voted unanimously in her favor. She had been employed as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Cartofront, a Chicago-based technology company. She obtained a master’s degree in public administration (MPA) from DePaul University in 2009 and came to Durand with more than eight years of economic development, planning and technology experience. O’Toole excelled in housing and economic development, entrepreneurship support services, land use and planning and technology.
Officially starting in the Durand position in mid-February 2017, O’Toole did not waste time in implementing plans and becoming involved in the municipality. Moving to Durand from the Chicago area, she recently admitted the small town was “all very new to me.”
“I have been incredibly impressed with the work of the staff in regards to capital projects,” she also shared, discussing how these projects saw major improvements on 65 percent of the streets in Durand, along with large improvements to the waste water treatment facility. Capital projects often focus on infrastructure, and right from her start in Durand, O’Toole emphasized she wanted to focus on infrastructure – including street improvement projects and water infrastructure, which often coincide in city planning and budgeting. O’Toole and city staff were able to utilize a number of sources for grant funding to help the city leverage for these necessary improvements, as well.
Referencing the Durand tax base, O’Toole shared that Durand has seen 11 percent growth in three years time, including both business and residential growth. She explained how a fund balance policy was also established, allowing for financial stability by reducing expenditures and creating a sort of “rainy day” fund for the city. She is now confident Durand has the financial reserves and is well prepared entering into 2021.
“It’s all been an incredible challenge and an amazing opportunity working in Durand and Shiawassee County,” O’Toole said. “I am very positive there are more great things to come for this area.”
“I want to say thank you to the community, council and staff and everyone I have worked with for being amazing and supportive,” she added. “Thank you for rolling up your sleeves to get the hard work done. I really appreciate that.”
The Greater Durand Area Chamber of Commerce Director Candyce Wolsfeld had plenty of positives to share about O’Toole. “Colleen has been a great friend to the chamber. Whenever we needed something, she has found a way to help us. She participated in area events on her personal time, brought her family to Durand, and supported us in many ways. We are going to miss her and wish her the best of luck.”
Wolsfeld shared how O’Toole had been one of the first in the community to step-up to formulate plans to assist businesses at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “She really put her heart into trying to make sure the businesses in Durand has some stability during that time.”