Tonya Galbraith Retires as McCordsville Town Manager

Writer / Julie Yates
Photographer / Justin Sicking

Tonya GalbraithDuring the years she served as McCordsvilles town manager, Tonya Galbraith oversaw a remarkable amount of growth and change. After holding the position since January of 2005, she retired in April. Several initiatives she helped put into place are still evolving, and she looks forward to seeing their end result as she continues to be actively involved with the town in other ways.

Local government has been a passion for Galbraith throughout her entire career. Prior to becoming McCordsvilles town manager, she worked as a lobbyist for more than 17 years. She supported both the legislative needs of cities and towns as well as environmental management.

Before I was town manager I worked for the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management,” she says. “I heard about the opening at McCordsville and I felt that I would love to be able to put into practice the things I had been advocating for. I was lucky enough to get selected. It has been the best job ever.”

The position of town manager is appointed by the town council. Besides being responsible for managing the day-to-day running of the town, Galbraiths duties also included implementing any decisions made by the council as well as serving as the liaison between developers of residential, commercial or industrial projects. One ongoing project during Galbraiths tenure was tackling how to handle and accommodate the increase in traffic and growth of businesses along Mt. Comfort Road. 

When I first came to the position there was a population of 1,300 people, and now it is close to 10,000,” she says. “We were part of the Hancock County Area Plan Commission. The county had the end vote in whatever we did. During the recession in 2008 when everything slowed down, we formed a steering committee to map out how we could break away from the county and form a planning commission. By 2010 and 2011 we had our own comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance. We wanted to be in charge of our own destiny since the area was screaming that it was going to grow.”

Tonya GalbraithGalbraith says she is most proud of how the community has grown in a smart way. When she first began, McCordsville had only a small public works and a utilities department. Currently, the town has planning, building, municipal and environmental departments, plus a full-time town engineer and an assistant town manager. One project Galbraith felt strongly about was the need for a town center to serve as an anchor and give residents a strong sense of community.

In 2007, with the help of a group of students from Ball State, we started planning for a town center that would look much like what Fishers has today,” she says. “Then the recession hit and the project was put on hold. It really started to move forward in 2018 when another steering committee was formed for planning stage one and choosing a developer. It takes that long for a project like it to be implemented.”

The result will be a multi-use area with retail space, apartments and green space, and is a multimillion-dollar partnership between the town of McCordsville, Rebar Development, and Pride Investment Partners. Future stages are planned to include a town hall and an outdoor amphitheater. The goal of the town center is to further define McCordsvilles unique identity and attract people and new businesses to the area.

A referendum to become a city has not been a push here,” Galbraith says when asked if McCordsville will ever become a city with a mayor, instead of a town. “There are actually many more towns in the state of Indiana than cities. I did do many duties a mayor would have done but my job as town manager was to put into place what the town council approved.”

While Galbraith is ready to step away from being town manager, she will stay involved by serving local organizations. Recently appointed to the Fortville-Vernon Township Public Library board, she is also vice president of the Hancock Health Foundation board and a member of the Hancock County Community Foundation.

On March 8, during the last council meeting, Galbraith attended as town manager, a reception was held. She was given the key to the town and surprised with an announcement that a portion of the planned town center will be named Tonya Galbraith Plaza. She felt both surprised and humbled.

It was very special and I felt quite taken aback,” she says. “This job has been a labor of love since there were always plenty of changes, from road improvement to growth control. I feel like I was useful to get the town to this point, and the transition to Tim Gropp as the new town manager will be perfect. He brings a new set of skills to the position that is different than mine. I couldnt be happier for him to take over where I left off. Im excited to continue to contribute to my hometown in different ways.”

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