After leading the county for more than two decades, Henrico County manager Virgil Hazelett retired on Wednesday.
He speaks to NBC12 about the challenges the county will face as he handed over the reins to John Vithoulkas, the deputy county manager for administration.
"The aspect of the day is bittersweet of course being the last day of a very long career," said Hazelett.
Hazelett spoke one-on-one with NBC12 about his long career. He started 40 years ago as the county's first traffic engineer, in his second week he says he installed the area's 15th traffic signal. Now he's watching everything grow rapidly.
"A lot of infrastructure changes," he said. "Demographics in the county have and continue to change dramatically."
More than 10,000 people work under the county manager who must also help balance a $1-billion budget. Hazelett predicts the state of the economy will be the county's biggest challenge.
"This recovery is not moving as fast as we all would like," he said. "We do see positive signs we do think it's moving forward but it is very slow and that's having an impact on budgetary considerations."
Even to the last day he's pushing for things he believes will help the county, like the controversial meals tax that adds four-percent to a meal in Henrico, but could mean millions of dollars in revenue.
"They're all means by which the county can provide its level of services, meets its demand of the community in a whole," said Hazelett.
He reminds people that the county is doing better than many areas something he is proud of.
"The tax rates have not gone up, the level of services remain the same, we haven't laid anyone off," he said.
Hazelett tells us the biggest piece of advice he gave to his successor: remember that the people you work for are the people who live here in Henrico. He is 67-years-old and says he can't stop working. He did hint you may see him working again but wouldn't give details on what that job will be.
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