Transitions: Coconino County, AZ; Kilgore, TX; Suamico, WI

Coconino County, Arizona (population 134,421): Coconino County Manager Steve Peru is announcing his retirement from Coconino County after thirty two years of public service.  Peru began his career at Coconino County in 1979 and has held a variety of positions within the county, including Interim County Manager prior to being appointed County Manager in 2006.  Peru will remain in Flagstaff and continue his involvement with organizations in the community. Peru began his career at the county in the Community Services Department and has served in a variety of roles in the organization, including Community Services Program Coordinator, Career and Training Center Director, Interim Facilities and Interim Finance Director, Elections Director, Assistant to the County Manager/Clerk of the Board and Deputy County Manager.  Peru was appointed as the County Manager in October 2006.  During his tenure at Coconino County, Peru has taken the lead on key initiatives.  These initiatives include the county’s success in financial planning and the ability to weather the worst downturn in the economy since the Great Depression.  Peru also led efforts to ensure the county’s investment in key assets, including parks and open space, the restoration of the Coconino County Courthouse and the construction of a new jail within Coconino County.  Peru has been at the helm during the county’s worst year of natural disasters, including a record-breaking snow storm, a large wildfire, flooding and tornadoes. Peru’s last day with Coconino County will be November 4, 2011.  Coconino County staff will be developing an interim leadership succession plan for consideration by the Board of Supervisors. Read more at Flagstaff Business News.

Kilgore, Texas (population 12,975): After three years working for the City of Montrose, Colorado the decision to pass on the town’s top job was difficult for Scott Sellers. Filling in as Acting City Manager since January, Sellers had the opportunity to apply for the job permanently, had the city council’s encouragement to do so, but as successful as his time there has been, putting down roots for another five or 10 years “just didn’t feel right.”

After months spent searching for a new city manager, the Kilgore City Council is set to approve Sellers as its top choice Tuesday night. From the 90 candidates gathered by the city’s executive search firm, Sellers and four other applicants made it into the final pool of resumes. On paper, he was a strong candidate, Mayor Ronnie Spradlin, one of several. It was in the face-to-face interview that Sellers quickly rose to the top of the pack. Coming over as “very honest, straightforward and sincere,” Spradlin said Sellers also seemed hardworking and dedicated to the job. His experience in downtown revitalization and other experience will be valuable here, Spradlin said, and he looks forward to working with the city’s new chief.

After receiving his Masters in Public Administration from Brigham Young University in 2006, Sellers was almost immediately hired as Assistant City Manager in Centralia, Ill., focusing on economic development initiatives in a town of some 14,000 people. In Centralia, Sellers oversaw the Tax Increment Finance District (similar to the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone established in Kilgore), information technology and helped develop the city’s downtown area including the acquisition and resale of key downtown buildings and creating an ‘opportunity fund’ of seed money for redevelopment. The initiative earned an award from the International City Manager’s Association, as did a budget document (including a strategic plan and short- and long-term capital improvement plan) with measures tying the performance of the city organization to the budget.

Sellers assumed the same role in Montrose, Colo. in August 2008. His time in Montrose included the creation of a downtown development authority and more large capital construction through tax increment reinvestment. Due to the illness of the Montrose City Manager, Sellers stepped into the role on an interim basis in January of this year, lasting into the fall. But Sellers feels his path, and his family’s, leads to Texas.

Kilgore’s population is more than 6,000 below Sellers most recent employer – not to mention, more than 1,000 miles away and about 5,450 lower in elevation. And besides the change warmer climes, Kilgore’s economic climate brings its own challenges, but Sellers says he’s ready to adapt and lead. In preparing the city’s budget for Fiscal Year 2011-2012, Interim City Manager Tony Williams focused on being conservative and cautious in developing a plan, one that would leave the city with a stable foundation if its collections – specifically those related to the oilfield – are not as lucrative as they’ve been in past years.

With Sellers getting to work in Kilgore at the end of October, he plans to move his family to town as soon as possible– his wife, Amy, two daughters and three sons: Adeline (8), Isaac (6), Avery (4), Corbin (2) and six-month-old Oliver. Read more at the Kilgore News Herald.

Suamico, Wisconsin (population 11,346): Steve Kubacki spent 15 years as the village of Ashwaubenon’s administrator before he left in 2010 to seek out new challenges. He applied for Suamico’s open administrator position but ultimately became the Chippewa County administrator. When the Suamico position opened again this summer, Kubacki jumped at the opportunity to head back to Brown County and lead the up-and-coming village. Kubacki is married and has two sons and a daughter. Kubacki started his new position in late September and looks forward to helping chart the village’s trajectory. He will earn $95,000 as administrator. Read more at the Green Bay Press Gazette.

Reedsburg, Wisconsin (population 9,200): Reedsburg probably won’t have another city administrator – or someone to fill a position similar to it – until the start of next year. John Dougherty, former city administrator, was fired last week after several negative performance reviews, and Mayor Dave Estes said the Common Council want to make sure everything is done correctly when hiring his replacement. In the meantime, he said, city staff will step in to fill the gap.

Alderman Bob Parkhurst said Thursday that the Council wants to study the position and what they want from it before they begin looking for candidates. Last week, Parkhurst and Alderman Dave Knudsen both said the Council was unsure whether it would hire another city administrator or a city manager, although both essentially would fulfill the same duties.

As part of Dougherty’s contract, he will receive 180 days of severance pay, or about $40,000. Clerk-Treasurer Anna Meister said he was allowed under contract to request that sum either as six consecutive payments or one lump sum, and Dougherty elected to take the full amount. While $20,000 of that comes from Dougherty’s budgeted pay from October to December of this year, Meister said the other $20,000 will have to be budgeted on top of the city administrator’s regular pay for 2012. She wasn’t sure if having to add the extra money to the 2012 budget would mean cutting funding for something else.

Estes said the city would advertise the position with the Wisconsin League of Municipalities and look for qualified candidates from the area before hiring a head-hunting firm. The city paid an outside consulting firm close to $10,000 during the search for a city administrator in 2008. Read more at the Reedsburg Times Press.

Raton, New Mexico (population 6,303): A new city manager was in place at city hall last Monday, just three days after being officially hired. Jeff Condrey began his new job at 8 a.m. Monday and by 10 a.m. was having his first staff meeting to be formally introduced to the employees he will lead. Condrey, whose résumé includes a variety of municipal, state and federal management positions, was hired by the Raton City Commission on September 30. The commission approved a contract for Condrey at a special meeting, following up on an interview it held with Condrey two days earlier.

Commissioner Charles Starkovich called the city manager search an “arduous task” and thanked his fellow commissioners for the “congenial” manner in which the commission handled the process. He said Raton is “lucky to have a person of this caliber” step into the city manager job. Condrey was one of two candidates brought to the city commission Sept. 28 by The Mercer Group, an Atlanta-based firm that assists with public-entity management candidate searches. They were both interviewed and the special meeting was scheduled for Sept. 30 to approve the contract for Condrey. The Mercer Group was used to locate candidates for the Raton position after the commission advertised the position and drew 18 applicants, which the commission eventually narrowed to three finalists, two of whom came for in-person interviews in mid-August. The commission offered the position to one of the finalists, but terms could not be reached on a contract.

Condrey operated a Rio Rancho-based community development services company he founded last year, but his previous jobs have been mostly in government. He was Gallup’s city manager from about 1985 until 1991, soon after which he was appointed director of the Local Government Division of the state Department of Finance and Administration. In 2002, he became the state Rural Development director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, serving until 2005. He then returned to the job of city manager, this time in Española from 2005 to 2006 and then went on to become village administrator in Edgewood from the fall of 2006 to March 2008.

Raton’s city manager position was vacated by P.J. Mileta in early March, about two months after announcing his resignation. Scott Berry, a former Raton city engineer and former city commissioner, served as interim city manager until recently. Read more at the Raton Range.

Gunter, Texas (population 1,802): Gunter is searching for a new city secretary after Mark Millar, who served as the city secretary and city administrator, resigned on Wednesday. The city council held a special meeting on Wednesday to discuss Millar’s job performance in closed, executive session. It was during the executive session Millar tendered his resignation effective immediately, said Gunter Mayor Mark Merrill. The council has previously had discussions about Millar’s performance during executive session. Merrill said “there was a performance issue” with Millar, but Merrill said he could not comment further. Millar has been city administrator of Gunter for a year and spent eight years before that as the city’s mayor. Merrill said, moving forward the council is immediately beginning a search for someone to fill just the role of the city secretary. Read more at the Herald Democrat.

Freeport, Maine (population 1,693): Dale C. Olmstead Jr. will retire next April after 30 years as town manager. Olmstead said he has planned to retire at 62, and will reach that age in March 2012. He became town manager in 1982. Town Council Chairman Jim Cassida said Olmstead’s early announcement is helpful, since it will take a while to find a new manager. Olmstead said he and his wife, who is from Texas, plan to spend winters near her family and summers in Maine. They will upgrade a small camp they own in central Maine and spend their time there. At a meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4, the Town Council discussed the process that will be used to find a new town manager. According to Cassida, the council is leaning toward hiring a consulting firm that specializes in municipal hiring, and specifically town managers. The council made no formal decision, but favors using the consultant with “some sort of public process,” he said. Two other options Cassida presented to the council included creating a nine-member search team made up of past and present councilors, town staff and residents who would advise the council during the search process. Another option was to create a citizen committee, and give its members the option of hiring a consultant. He said the council will meet with two consulting firms within the next few weeks and decide which one is a better fit for Freeport. Read more in the Portland Press Herald.

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