In his role as a municipal manager, George Zboyovsky always tries to help people.
There have been days when that meant going beyond the job’s usual responsibilities.
He tells stories of his time in local government — whether as a manager in Brentwood or serving on Monessen City Council — when he did the unexpected.
There was the time when he went to a resident’s house to spray it for bees, because no one else would, and they paid him in homegrown tomatoes and lettuce for the service. And there’s the time a woman had too much garbage strung in front of her home and the waste management company wouldn’t pick it all up, so he grabbed a friend and a truck and cleaned it up himself.
“It’s the immediate impact that you have on your neighbors that is the most rewarding,” said Zboyovsky, 52, of Brentwood, who has served as the borough’s manager for more than a decade. “In local government, you’re doing it for your neighbors.”
Zboyovsky recently became a credentialed manager through the Washington, D.C.-based International City/County Management Association. He is one of only 37 credentialed managers in Pennsylvania.
The organization’s mission is to advance professional local government through leadership, management, innovation and ethics. The accreditation looks at management experience, education and professional development, and managers must take an assessment that directs them towards areas of improvement. To maintain the accreditation, managers must receive 40 hours of continuing education training each year.
“It’s all about accountability,” Zboyovsky said, noting that it’s important to stay up to date on current issues in local government to keep one’s community at the forefront. His assessment challenged him to focus more on community engagement, and he’s thinking of ways to do that with the strategic planning process that’s coming up in the borough.
Zboyovsky has a background in civil engineering, having worked for consulting firms in the field for 16 years. During that time, he was involved in projects such as the North Shore Connector, for which he was a member of the stormwater management team.
Zboyovsky, who has a degree in physics from California University of Pennsylvania and a civil engineering degree from Pennsylvania State University, has a dual master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in public and international affairs and business administration.
He started out in local government by volunteering on the Monessen recreation committee. He moved to the zoning hearing board and ultimately served as a city councilman for seven years.
Working in local government is “a calling,” he said. “You have to love it.”
Zboyovsky began his municipal management career in Dormont, then went on to work as a district director with former U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy before the manager job opened up in Brentwood.
He had bought a house in the borough and came in as the local guy wanting to stay and live in the community, he said. He was hired in 2007.
Looking back at his time in Brentwood, Zboyovsky says the biggest changes have been the renovations to the park and stadium.
He has used his engineering background often — at least 50% of the time on the job, he estimates. That background has helped the borough more than once, he said.
When the borough was looking to build a new public works building, estimates for the project came in at about $3 million, he said. Knowing that design-builds could be done for much less, he asked to explore the option, and the borough ended up getting the building for closer to $1 million, he said.
“I’ve been blessed with having a very progressive council,” he said.
The borough also brought on a public works assistant director who works under Zboyovsky’s engineering license to serve as an in-house engineer for the borough.
A goal he had early on to have street fairs in the borough has finally come to fruition almost a decade later.
Over the last decade, Zboyovsky said the biggest change he’s seen in Brentwood is “the attitude of the community.” It went from: “We can’t do that.” to “What are we going to do next?” in terms of development, as projects stack up and move forward quickly in the community.
Zboyovsky, who often shies away from talking about himself and likes to stay in the background, says being a municipal manager is “the most multi-faceted position I’ve had in my life.” He equates it to being the CEO of a business, with council being the board of directors and the residents being the customers. Of course, he’s probably a little more hands-on than most CEOs, he laughs.
Staying up to date with what others are doing is important, so your community can offer the best services and keep costs low, he said.
From one conference he attended alone, he found a way to save the borough $100,000 through handling a personnel situation differently.
He sees the accreditation and ongoing education it promotes as important.
“It’s definitely an honor to be one of the few that’s achieved this,” he said.