CHESHIRE — Michael Milone, the just-retired town manager, said he stumbled into the public service role that he held and enjoyed for decades.
Milone, 68, retired on Saturday, but is still finishing projects and other work in a reduced capacity at Town Hall. Sean Kimball, former Simsbury finance director, replaces him.
When entering Georgetown University as a business major, Milone needed to choose among five concentrations. He didn’t feel confident in his foreign language abilities.
“The only one that didn’t have a language requirement was public administration,” Milone said.
His bachelor’s and master’s degree led him to take a job in the controller’s office in New Haven, where he worked for 13 years. He was, and still is, interested in finance and budgeting but wanted to leave the politically charged environment of New Haven.
After taking a finance director job in Cheshire, he was asked to consider becoming town manager following the departure of town manager John Salomone in 2000.
“If it weren’t for them asking me, I might still be the finance director. I don’t know,” Milone said.
Town council leaders said one of Milone’s strengths is his grasp of finances. He’s glad to leave the town with the highest possible bond rating and in good financial condition.
“I always thought that Cheshire deserved a higher bond rating than it had,” he said. “I never thought one day we’d have the highest.”
Milone is also proud of a Town Hall culture that encourages department leaders to work together and challenge themselves.
“There are good people here. I leave the place to Sean with a good nucleus of people,” he said.
Milone especially praised the work of assistant town manager and public information officer Arnett Talbot. He described her as a “critical bridge” for the transition of leadership from himself to Kimball.
“This place could run for a while without a town manager. It couldn’t run for a while without Arnett,” Milone said.
Talbot said Milone would be missed. She’s worked with him since 1992.
“I have never worked with or for someone who was such a combination of dedication, integrity, humor and who truly cares for the people he works with and the people of this town,” Talbot said. “I don’t think he went through a day where he didn’t say ‘thank you.’ That is huge.”
Milone will teach at the University of New Haven as well as travel with his wife and maybe take art classes at Artsplace. He plans to remain in Cheshire.
“I couldn’t have picked a better career to follow,” he said.