Transitions: Arlington, TX; Cabarrus County, NC; Berkeley, CA and more

Arlington, Texas (population 365,438): City Manager Jim Holgersson submitted his resignation under pressure Tuesday after City Council members told him that they were unhappy with his job performance and were seeking a change in leadership. The council and Holgersson have been working for a week to reach a severance agreement through the city attorney’s office, Mayor Robert Cluck said. As dictated by his contract, Holgersson will receive up to eight months of his $214,152 salary. If Holgersson finds a new job before eight months, he will receive only one month of pay from Arlington after the new position begins.

Holgersson, 60, said he didn’t know why the council wanted to see him go. Now on personal leave, he declined to discuss details of his exchange with the council over the past week. Holgersson said he plans to remain an Arlington resident. Cluck also declined to disclose specific issues council members had with Holgersson, who was appointed in 2005, because those discussions were held in executive session.

Bob Byrd, who has worked with the city for 25 years, was named interim city manager. Byrd said he does not plan to seek the job permanently. Byrd was deputy city manager for four years. A national search for Holgersson’s replacement is expected to begin within 30 days. Read more at the Star-Telegram.

Cabarrus County, North Carolina (population 178,011): John Day will retire from Cabarrus County on June 30, 2012, and step down as county manager on Sept. 30. Day will stay on the county payroll as a consultant. Deputy County Manager Mike Downs will step in to be interim county manager, beginning Monday. Downs has been in charge of county operations for the past eight years, and has worked for the county for 25 years.

Day steered the county through tough financial times since being named county manager in 2003. The county has a positive financial outlook from the credit rating agencies, a turn-around from 2004, when the county had a negative outlook. Day has championed the cause of sustainability as a means for better government. Under his leadership, the county created a local food council, a sustainable local economy council and established sustainable policies within county government. Day also questioned the use of economic incentives to attract industry to the county. He favored small-market principles to help stimulate the local economy. Day questioned the county’s participation with the city of Kannapolis in issuing self-financing bonds for the N.C. Research Campus. He also questioned the N.C. Commerce Department on the use of its jet to meet with local officials about attracting Celgard to Concord. Read more at the Independent Tribune.

Berkeley, California (population 112,580): City Manager Phil Kamlarz will retire at the end of November after 36 years as a City of Berkeley employee. He has been City Manager for 8 years, succeeding Weldon Rucker, under whom he served as Deputy City Manager. It has been widely rumored that the baton will again be passed to a City Hall insider, in this case to Deputy City Manager Christine Daniel. The Berkeley City Council, however, could also decide to open the position for applications and to conduct a search for competitive candidates. Daniel’s 2010 gross salary in her current job was listed in the Mercury News database of public employee salaries as $195,111. If appointed, she would be the first woman to serve as Berkeley’s City Manager.

According to Contra Costa Times columnist Dan Borenstein, by the end of 2011 Kamlarz would have been making about $260,000—but because of the way employee compensation has been structured by the Berkeley city administration, when he retires he will take home a pension of $280,000 a year, or roughly 108 percent of his salary. He started working for the city as an associate accountant in the library department at a salary of $12,720 a year, Borenstein reported. Read more at the Berkeley Daily Planet.

Chisago County, Minnesota (population 53,887): Chisago County has officially hired Bruce Messelt as county administrator. The County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an employment contract during its Sept. 21 meeting, completing a hiring process begun in July when Messelt was selected as the top candidate out of a field of 77 applicants. Messelt has over 20 years of public and non-profit management experience, including work with the U.S. Department of Defense, the city of Tucson, Arizona, and the cities of Moorhead and Lake Elmo, Minnesota. His work has included significant coordination and collaboration with other cities and counties, the State of Minnesota, and area businesses and organizations. Messelt has worked on local government issues identified by the Chisago County Board as important to community, including economic development, public safety, transportation and infrastructure, public health, and cost-efficient, results-driven government. He has also served on various boards and committees within the International/Minnesota City/County Managers Association, the League of Minnesota Cities and the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities. Messelt, a native Minnesotan and graduate of Concordia College and the University of Minnesota, will start work on Nov. 1 at a salary of $99,070. During the interim between administrators, the duties of the position were performed by Kristine Nelson Fuge, who will return to her previous position as assistant county attorney. Read more at the East Central Minnesota Post Review.

Forest Lake, Minnesota (population 18,375): The Forest Lake City Council members were unanimous to hire Aaron Parrish to fill the city’s top executive post at Monday’s council meeting. His first day on the job will be Nov. 14. Parrish was waiting until the city council took action Sept. 26 to formally submit a letter of resignation to the city of Crookston. He will provide some feedback and guidance in Crookston’s search to hire a new administrator. Dan Coughlin, who was hired Jan. 1, 2011, accepted a settlement agreement and vacated the city administrator position in late June. His predecessor, Chip Robinson, retired last summer after a 33-year tenure in Forest Lake. In May of 2010, Maplewood-based Brimeyer Fursman was awarded a contract in the amount of $15,000 to find a replacement.

Parrish received a MA in urban and regional studies from Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2000. Between 1999-2001, Parrish was Mounds View’s economic development coordinator. He then went on to become the director of community development at the city of Arden Hills from 2001-2004. Parrish, 35, has been the city administrator in Crookston for nearly eight years. The council weighed in on the employment agreement with Parrish, with member Michael Freer saying he took issue with the severance package. Richard Fursman, president of the search firm, said the industry standard is six months and is what Parrish agreed to; the city council proposed three months. Parrish’s starting salary is $107,263. Included in the contract are paid dues and subscriptions, and monthly allowances; $350 for a vehicle (or he may choose in lieu of to be reimbursed for business travel at the rate established by the IRS) and $50 for cell phone costs. Parrish will be reimbursed up to $3,000 for moving expenses, which Councilwoman Susan Young said would easily total twice as much. Upon commencing employment, he will be credited with 40 hours of banked vacation. Read more at the Forest Lake Times.

La Fayette, Georgia (population 6,944): At a Monday night meeting, LaFayette Mayor Neal Florence announced that City Manager Johnnie Arnold has resigned. Florence says he received Johnnie Arnold’s resignation letter Monday. In it, Arnold gives no reason for leaving five months earlier than he planned. Florence says Arnold will use vacation days and won’t return to work before his last day October 10. Florence announced Arnold’s replacement will be Franklin Etheridge of Pembroke, Georgia. The city council is expected to approve Etheridge’s position on or before Arnold’s last day. Read more at News Channel 9.

Breckenridge, Texas (population 5,780): Breckenridge City Commissioners voted to terminate the contract of city manager Brad Newton during a special-called meeting Wednesday. Mayor Jimmy McKay and commissioners Sherry Strickland, Kody Knight and Graham Reaugh voted to terminate Newton’s contract and remove him from the position of City Manager ‘without cause,” as provided in the contract, because the group had come to the conclusion that it was not a good fit for Breckenridge, according to a news release.

In October 2010, commissioners unanimously voted to hire SGR Executive Search to conduct the process of finding a candidate for the position. Newton was one of eight finalists named for the position. Newton started in his position March 14 after commissioners passed a resolution to officially hire him to replace Gary Ernest, who retired from the position Dec. 31, 2010. Newton was hired with an annual salary of $82,000 per year with benefits, which included a city vehicle with limited use, a cell phone and service and reimbursement for professional dues and travel. During his six month employment with the city of Breckenridge, Newton did not receive any written reprimands or any “write ups.” A severance was involved in the termination of Newton’s contract but terms were not released. Read more at the Breckenridge American.

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