Transitions: Fort Worth, TX; Washington County, MN; Winchester, MA and more

Fort Worth, Texas (population 741,206): By his own admission, Tom Higgins likes to stay in the background. For most of his 24 years with the city, he was the economic development director, working behind the scenes to bring companies and jobs to Fort Worth. As interim city manager for 10 months, Higgins lost his much-beloved anonymity, and the spotlight is expected to get brighter after the City Council’s decision last week to remove the “interim” tag from his job. Though Councilman Danny Scarth talked of Higgins having the “complete and full confidence” of the council, Higgins, 68, who will be paid $233,393.06, knows that Mayor Betsy Price has already said the city will start a national search next year. From wrestling with the city’s pension program to tackling long-delayed work on streets, then finding more funding once the current street backlog is eliminated, Higgins clearly has a lot on his plate. What’s more, he wants to see city employees embrace a culture change to provide more customer service to residents — one of the themes of Price’s mayoral campaign. Council members praised Higgins’ handling of a budget this year that included a 3 percent raise for general employees and no layoffs. But Higgins warns that next year’s budget could be far more difficult. The sluggish real estate market is one cause for pessimism, and Higgins said he expects property values to stay flat, at best. City staff members have begun looking at where to hold the line on expenses to prepare for another shortfall. Long-term projections show the city facing shortfalls in each of the next five years. Just because something is in the budget, he notes, that doesn’t guarantee that the money will be spent. Despite coming close to retiring three years ago, Higgins doesn’t sound ready to quit just yet. A noted early riser, Higgins is often in the office well before dawn poring over documents and getting work done before the phone calls and meetings begin. He keeps a notepad by his bed to jot down ideas and sometimes sits on his patio in the middle of the night deciding what the next move should be. He joined Fort Worth in 1987 as the one-man Department of Economic Development, helping to land the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing facility and luring companies to the now-booming Alliance Corridor just as it got off the ground. Making those deals work, outmaneuvering other cities, was all part of the excitement that fueled the competitive fire, Higgins said. And he still gets satisfaction driving by businesses or hotels that have brought jobs and visitors to the area. That experience should serve Higgins well as city manager, said Mike Berry, president of Hillwood Properties, which developed Alliance and worked with Higgins on many of those deals. Berry said Higgins’ attention to detail, calm demeanor and institutional memory will be assets for the city. But Berry said time hasn’t passed Higgins by. He can see the big picture and is good at finding new ideas for seemingly intractable problems, Berry said, mentioning that he was in Higgins’ office last week, talking about finding a solution to the perpetually clogged Interstate 35W. Read more at the Star-Telegram.

Washington County, Minnesota (population 238,136): Longtime Washington County Administrator Jim Schug announced Thursday he will retire early next year after 25 years with the county. Named county administrator in 1994, Schug began his quarter-century with Washington County as the director of the county’s Community Services Department. He has worked in county government for more than 37 years in Crow Wing, Redwood and Washington counties, beginning his career as a social worker. Schug, who lives in Stillwater, announced his plan to retire in late January in an email to employees on Thursday. He had previously informed Washington County’s five commissioners, according to a county news release. Schug’s 2011 salary is $150,065. A timeline for finding Schug’s successor was not made immediately clear on Thursday. Commissioner Autumn Lehrke, who represents south Washington County, in an interview Thursday praised Schug as “great to work with” during her 10 months on the board and said “his knowledge base will be greatly missed.” County Board Chairman Gary Kriesel, a commissioner for seven years, said he has witnessed Schug’s skills as a leader. Schug respects the employees and is a positive motivator, he said. Kriesel said the five commissioners will discuss soon the process to replace Schug. Kriesel said his “expectation” is that it would be an internal search. Lehrke agreed. Even those who don’t follow county government closely should appreciate Schug’s contributions, Kriesel said. Over the years Schug has made recommendations to the County Board that led to the county’s solid financial standing and its successful delivery of a wide range of services. Surveys have shown residents are satisfied with county government, Kriesel said. Read more at the Woodbury Bulletin.

Winchester, Massachusetts (population 21,374): The Winchester Board of Selectmen Thursday night unanimously selected Richard Howard, outgoing Malden mayor, as its new town manager, the board said in a statement. Howard was among four finalists for the position, and beat out officials from Saugus and Belmont, a list narrowed from 54 original applicants. In November, Howard announced he would not seek a fifth term in office in Malden. Also a lawyer who served business-oriented clients before his time in electoral politics, Howard had said he would explore non-elected public life or return to law. His departure marks the end of an era in Malden, where Howard has served as mayor since 1996, and a bump in pay. Winchester advertised compensation up to $160,000. Howard earned $114,400 as Malden mayor in 2008, the latest figures available. The other finalists for the job were Saugus town manager Andrew R. Bisignani and Belmont town administrator Thomas G. Younger. Swampscott town administrator Andrew W. Maylor was a finalist before accepting the town manager job in North Andover. In a phone interview, Howard said he would likely take the helm in Winchester in early January, after the new mayor of Malden is sworn in Jan. 2. Currently he and Winchester officials are negotiating the terms of his employment there, he said, including salary, benefits, and other standard contractual items. The transition will require some adjustment, Howard said, but was quick to compare the communities. While Winchester is less than half the size of Malden — at just over 21,000 — Howard said both communities share a desire for transit-oriented development, and more specifically, the remodeling of their high schools. This year, workers are completing a $70 million renovation of Malden High School, the last segment in Howard’s career-long effort to remake and rebuild the Malden Public Schools. Some of the key differences between the communities fall squarely along the population trend. The Winchester town budget is roughly half of what the Malden city government spends in a year. The political structure is also wholly different, and will mark Howard’s first step outside of an elected position. The transition means less hours during evenings and weekends filling the ceremonious duties of a mayor of a medium-sized city, Howard said — duties that he will come to miss, he said. Read more at the Boston Globe.

Cocoa, Florida (population 17,140): Deputy City Manager Brenda Fettrow last month became acting city manager and will become Cocoa’s first female city manager when her contract is finalized in the coming weeks. Fettrow replaces Ric Holt, who was the city’s longest-serving city manager, holding the job since 2000. The Cocoa City Council last month accepted his retirement offer. Fettrow was deputy city manager since 2008. She previously worked for 20 years at Brevard Community College, most recently as vice president of student services and interim executive director of the BCC Foundation. Before that, she was president of BCC’s Cocoa campus. Read more at Florida Today.

Clearlake, California (population 15,250): Clearlake’s new interim city administrator received a warm welcome at her first council meeting on Thursday evening. Joan Phillipe started work on Oct. 24. The council voted to hire Phillipe on an interim basis at its Sept. 22 meeting, as Lake County News has reported. Most recently she worked as interim general manager for the Foresthill Public Utility District in Placer County, and also previously served as city manager in Colusa, Colfax and Loomis. Her interim contract is for six months, after which the council could decide to hire Phillip in a long-term capacity. She has reportedly expressed interest in taking the job permanently. During public comment, Supervisor Rob Brown appeared at the podium with a large gift basket filled with a number of items including freshly baked bread, local produce and wine, gift certificates and tickets for local school sporting events, which he offered Phillipe as a welcome gift. Phillipe told the council later in the meeting that she anticipates “a very positive future” working with the city. Council member Judy Thein thanked Bob Galusha, the city’s engineer, who has acted as interim city manager for several months as the hiring process was taking place. Thein said Galusha won’t have to do double duty in the future. Mayor Joyce Overton said a meet and greet to introduce the community to Phillipe will take place on Nov. 10. Read more at Lake County News.

Lake Wales, Florida (population 14,225): It’s been a while since Lake Wales had a new city manager who was also new to the area. That’s why city of Lake Wales and the Lake Wales Area Chamber of Commerce – in partnership with several local businesses – will host a reception for Therese Leary from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Nov. 3, in the lobby of Lake Wales City Hall at 201 W. Central Ave. Leary of Hilton Head, S.C., was one of two candidates selected for interviews for the post to succeed City Manager Judy Delmar, who announced last year that she would be retiring. When R. Dale Brown of Palestine, Texas, withdrew his application in late August after difficulties with a Skype.com interview and concerns of professionalism among the commissioners, the Lake Wales City Commission voted unanimously to offer the job to Leary. She accepted the job in early September and the City Commission approved her contract on Sept. 7. Her first City Commission meeting will be next Tuesday. City Commissioner Betty Wojcik – who is executive director of the chamber – approached Delmar about planning a reception for Leary and covering the costs with a partnership between the city and chamber. Local businesses such as Center State Bank, Florida’s Natural Growers and Lake Wales Main Street will sponsor the reception. Wojcik said they chose 4:30 p.m. to give people a chance to drop by and still take part in or attend the Lake Wales Literacy Council’s Spelling Circus or the Florida’s Natural Foundation awards, both scheduled for that night. Leary served as general manager for Indigo Run Community Owner’s Association in Hilton Head, N.C. She also served as city manager for Lake Park and Crystal River in Florida, as well as for cities in Connecticut, South Carolina, and Vermont. She hold a master’s degree in management and organizational development from Antioch University in Keen, N.H., and has studied with the New York University business law program. In her interview, Leary said she planned to move to Florida whether or not she got hired by Lake Wales. She described herself as a “consensus-builder” who would seek a team-oriented approach to both city management and public and private partnerships for economic development and recreation. Read more at News Chief.

Harrisburg, North Carolina (population 11,526): The Harrisburg Town Council voted Oct. 24 not to renew the town administrator’s contract and removed her from all town duties immediately. Five of the seven council members were present for the vote Oct. 24 at a regular town meeting. Jeffrey Redfern and Jeff Phillips were absent. The others unanimously approved the decision to put Michele Reapsmith on administrative leave with pay until Nov. 30, when her contract ends. Reapsmith was hired finance director in 2009 and was appointed town administrator in 2010. She said her departure was a mutually beneficial decision. Council member Bill Williams said he had always good relationship with Reapsmith, but he voted in favor of the decision. Williams said the council was “looking into some things,” but he wouldn’t comment further. A special meeting “to discuss personnel matters” in closed session is scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 29, he said. The council could vote to take action on the matter, but any voting is likely to take place publicly, after the closed session. Harrisburg voters will elect four council members Nov. 8. Read more at the Charlotte Observer.

Wilcox County, Georgia (population 9,255): Tommy Higgs who was hired in June by Wilcox County Commissioners as county manager has tendered his resignation, effective immediately. Higgs said he cannot support some provisions of a plan that commissioners have unveiled for “expediting payments by Wilcox County to its vendors and service providers.“ In leaving the position he has held for the past four and a half months, Higgs added, “I would like to extend my most sincere and profound thanks to my former co-workers, the many new friends I have met and especially to the many citizens who welcomed and provided me with opportunities to really become a part of this great county.” When Higgs was hired, he was given a six-month contract with a clause for renewal if everyone concerned was satisfied. Commission Chairman Tracy Tyndal says he has received no letter of resignation, but was informed by County Clerk Paula Jones that Higgs turned in his keys, cleaned out his desk and told courthouse personnel that he was resigning. The contract, he said, does not expire until the end of November. Tyndal said the commission met last Wednesday in a called session, to discuss a plan for paying 201 unpaid bills totaling $336,000. When Higgs was asked about the situation, Tyndal said, the county manger responded that he was controlling cash flow. In the first two weeks of her employment, Ms. Jones was getting many collection calls, according to Tyndal, so she started investigating and found the unopened bills. Read more at the Cordele Dispatch.

Valley City, North Dakota (population 6,585): Outgoing Valley City Administrator Jon Cameron’s new job is in the Oklahoma city of Perry. The controversial city official announced earlier this month that he’s resigning after months of political turmoil in the city, but he didn’t say where. He said he would leave it up to officials in that city to make the announcement. Perry City Council member Shelbi Duke has confirmed that Cameron will be working there starting next month, replacing a retiring city manager. Cameron also then confirmed it. Perry is about 60 miles north of Oklahoma City. It has a population of about 5,200, slightly smaller than Valley City, which has about 6,600 people. Cameron says it’s about four hours from Dallas, where he has children and grandchildren. Read more at The Bismarck Tribune.

Loomis, California (population 6,430): Loomis’ new town manager considers Loomis a “gem.” Rick Angelocci began as the Loomis town manager on Oct. 13. He replaced Perry Beck who retired on Sept. 30. Angelocci, formerly the assistant city manager and community development director for the City of South Lake Tahoe, will be paid $110,000 per year, plus a $300 per month car allowance. Beck’s pay after 11 years on the job was $116,000. According to a report written by Beck, the council began the search process in May and received 127 applications. The search was narrowed down to seven interview candidates and then four finalists. Councilmember Gary Liss said he is very supportive of Angelocci, as are other council members. Liss said he was most impressed with Angelocci’s background in planning and in working on collaborative agreements with multiple jurisdictions. According to Beck, prior to working for the City of South Lake Tahoe, Angelocci spent two decades at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and held the position of Chief of Operations. Based on his planning background, he will also serve as the town planning director. Kathy Kerdus, who held the position, recently retired. Angelocci calls himself a “problem solver” and said he looked very closely at Loomis before applying for the job and was impressed with what he discovered about Loomis. Angelocci said when he was scouting the town, he stopped at Taylors for lunch and left his smartphone on the table. He said he realized it and feared the phone would be gone, but he said he was pleasantly surprised to find an employee had picked it up and was holding it for him. He felt the incident spoke of the character of the town. Angelocci remarked that Loomis had stayed true to its original values outlined when Loomis incorporated. Angelocci said he was also pleased with Loomis’ finances. The new town manager said he plans to continue the traditions already established for Loomis and stay on the path the town has consistently taken. Angelocci said he plans to stick to “slow growth, no debt, continue with sustainability. I hope to do as well as Perry.” Angelocci is divorced and has two daughters still living in South Lake Tahoe – Larissa, 16, and Sarah, 13. He said he is living in an apartment in Roseville and plans to rent for a year before settling in a more permanent location. He said his oldest daughter is a junior at South Lake Tahoe High School, but he may consider sending his younger daughter to Del Oro High School. Read more in The Loomis News.

Indian Wells, California (population 4,958): The Indian Wells City Council hired retired Beverly Hills city manager Roderick J. Wood as the interim Indian Wells city manager during a special meeting on Thursday. Wood, 62, has 40 years experience in municipal government, serving as city manager for multiple cities, including Indian Wells from 1989-1992. Land developer and former Indian Wells mayor Dick Oliphant suggested Wood, a La Quinta resident, for the interim position, Mayor Patrick Mullany told the 40 residents present at Thursday’s announcement. Wood, who retired about 18 months ago and is drawing a pension from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or CalPERS, will be paid $15,000 monthly. He is eligible only to work 960 hours a year. He will receive no other benefits, according to his contract. His familiarity with the Coachella Valley is one of Wood’s strong points, council members said. For his part, Wood said he recognizes he will have to figure out the issues quickly. But after familiarizing himself with the city budget and the city’s priorities, Wood said his next task will be to foster the public’s confidence, which has been shaken in previous months by the in-fighting among council members and the more recent controversy involving Indian Wells’ soon- to-be former City Manager Greg Johnson. On Oct. 6, Johnson, 50, abruptly tendered his resignation after allegations that he got resident Haddon Libby fired from his job after Libby publicly questioned Johnson’s salary and benefits. Johnson’s last day will be Nov. 4. He, however, has not been conducting the day-to-day city business. Mel Windsor, the city’s Public Safety and Personnel director, has been acting interim city manager since Oct. 7. Libby has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer, First Foundation Bank, and a complaint against Indian Wells — a notice of intention to file a lawsuit. Some of the residents who attended Thursday’s special meeting believed the council would address Johnson’s resignation and compensation. The announcement of an interim city manager took them by surprise. City officials have remained tight-lipped about Johnson’s severance package, which is expected to be disclosed at council’s next regular meeting, Nov. 3. Johnson earns $254,625 annually and stands to get a year of salary, and accumulated sick and vacation pay. Council interviewed four head-hunting firms on Wednesday and Thursday for the city manager search, but has not made a selection. Once a firm is chosen, the city manager search is expected to take as long as five months. Read more in The Desert Sun.

Viroqua, Wisconsin (population 4,362): The Viroqua City Council, Tuesday night, approved hiring city clerk John Severson as the new city administrator. Severson has served as city clerk for the last six years. He will step into the city administrator role, replacing Matt Giese, who left Viroqua at the end of August to be the village administrator for Cottage Grove, Wis. Mayor Larry Fanta announced Severson’s promotion following a closed session at the council meeting. Prior to Severson’s tenure as the city clerk for Viroqua, he was the clerk/treasurer/administrator for the village of Viola for 10 ½ years. With the internal promotion of Severson from city clerk to city administrator, Fanta said the city will need to find a replacement for the city clerk position. Read more at the Vernon County Broadcaster.

Van Alstyne, Texas (population 3,046): After nearly six months of searching, Van Alstyne appointed a new city manager. Philip Rodriguez was selected out of 70 candidates at Tuesday night’s meeting. He is currently the assistant city manager at Cedar Park, Texas and this new position in Van Alstyne will be his first time serving as a city manager. Mayor Kim DeMasters said the city is growing and she believes Rodriguez is the best candidate to help with that growth. Rodriguez will start his term at the end of November. Read more at KXII.

Grantville, Georgia (population 3,041): Grantville City Manager Mike Renshaw has informed the Grantville City Council that he will be leaving the city in late November to take a position as county manager of Camden County, NC. Renshaw has worked for the city for nearly a year after Grantville went without a city manager for about the same length of time following the abrupt departure of former city manager Scott Starnes, who was arrested on drug-related charges in October 2009. Grantville Mayor Jim Sells said that Renshaw has been “an asset for the city” and will be missed. Renshaw was recently offered a new one-year contract on a split vote from the council, but he opted to take the NC position instead. When Renshaw took the Grantville job at the very end of former Mayor Casey Houston’s tenure in late 2010, Grantville “had been without a city manager for a year, so there was a pile of work that was left undone,” said Sells. His last day of employment with the city will be on Nov. 24. Renshaw’s is only the latest in a wave of resignations by city employees. In recent weeks two electricians and the city clerk have resigned, for a total loss of six employees, out of a total of 23, in just six weeks. Sells said that he expects Renshaw to be replaced quickly. Renshaw said he’s excited about his new opportunity. He said he is most proud of the new “professionalized” police department. He said he and the city staff have also been working “to get the city in a position to take advantage of economic development opportunities in the near future.” Renshaw said he believes the city is better off than he found it. Read more at the Newnan Times-Herald.

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Transitions: Greensboro, NC; Hernando County, FL; Alexandria, VA and more

Greensboro, North Carolina (population 269,666): Greensboro named its new interim city manager after Rashad Young submitted his letter of resignation on Tuesday. City officials said Denise Turner Roth will serve as interim city manager once Young leaves office on December 2. Young’s term ends December 12 and December 2 will be his last day in office. He has accepted a position as City Manager for the Alexandria, Va. Roth will be paid a base salary $158,678, a raise from her current $121,000 salary. Roth is currently assistant city manager for community affairs and communications. She has been in that position since 2008. Greensboro will continue to search for a permanent replacement. Young came to Greensboro in October 2009 after being city manager of Dayton, Ohio, for three years. He replaced Mitch Johnson, who was fired in March 2009. Young was hired with a base salary of $179,500. He turned down a 3 percent pay raise passed by City Council in 2010, saying he shouldn’t be given a raise if city workers weren’t. Council also passed a 4 percent pay raise for Young in July, but Young turned that down as well. It would have raised his salary to $186,680, plus given him a $400 a month car allowance. Alexandria, founded in 1749, has a population of approximately 140,000 with a General Fund Operating Budget of $566.9 million. Read more at Fox 8.

Hernando County, Florida (population 172,778): Facing the possibility of an outright firing, Hernando County Administrator David Hamilton agreed Tuesday to leave his post by the end of the year. A sharply divided County Commission was discussing whether to change direction on a plan it approved last week to make Susan Goebel the new environmental services director when Commissioner John Druzbick made a motion to terminate Hamilton, saying he had lost faith in him. Commissioner Jeff Stabins seconded the motion, saying he could not support Hamilton’s continued employment because he did not inspire county staffers. But commissioners Dave Russell and Wayne Dukes voiced support for Hamilton, saying he has had difficult work to do, downsizing county government by one-third since he arrived from Minnesota 3 1/2 years ago. Hamilton, 62, told commissioners that there was still important work to be done and urged them to let him help with a smooth transition rather than “launch off a cliff.” Hamilton compared the parting that was being proposed by the commission to a divorce and said he wanted it to be amicable. He offered to prepare a plan to help move the county through the transition to new leadership by early next year. As the discussion continued and it became obvious that four of the commissioners were split, Stabins asked Chairman Jim Adkins, the swing vote, to speak. Adkins said he would support Hamilton in his effort to create a transition plan that would have the administrator remain in his position for two more months. Druzbick tabled his motion to terminate Hamilton’s contract until Nov. 8, when Hamilton will bring forward his transition plan. Hamilton had been hammered earlier in Tuesday’s meeting by comments from the public. Paul Douglas, president of the local NAACP chapter but speaking as an individual, accused Hamilton of destroying public records. He told the commission he had made a complaint to the State Attorney’s Office about Hamilton shredding notes taken when county officials investigated racial complaints at the Wiscon Road utilities office after Hamilton first arrived in 2008. Douglas said the destruction of records was detailed to him in a recent phone conversation with departing environmental services director Joe Stapf. Hamilton declined to respond to the charges. Former County Commissioner Rose Rocco, a longtime critic of Hamilton, called him a liar and urged the commission to order him to resign. Druzbick accused Hamilton of misleading the board and failing to provide complete information two weeks ago when Hamilton recommended that Goebel move from director of transportation services to director of environmental services with an $8,000 raise. The commission didn’t know at the time that administrative services director Cheryl Marsden had not been in agreement with the change. Hamilton told commissioners the fact that Marsden had not signed the recommendation was an oversight. Marsden has said that the move was lateral and would not ordinarily come with a pay raise. Goebel also didn’t match the requirements for the job, which was recently vacated by Stapf. Hamilton asked Marsden to rewrite the job description. Druzbick said the latest issue was just one of many and that he had asked Hamilton privately for his resignation on Monday. Hamilton had refused. Hamilton said Tuesday that after his conversation with Druzbick, he had gone home Monday, spoken with his wife and settled on the proposal to create a transition plan and leave his job. Druzbick said he had concluded that Hamilton was no longer dedicated to Hernando County when he got word late last week that Hamilton had applied to be the county administrator of Sarasota County. Russell said he had no problem with Hamilton testing the water in Sarasota County. When Hamilton was hired, Russell said, the commission gave him “a mighty task.” He was charged with downsizing and reorganizing the structure of county government to reduce costs as property tax revenues plummeted. On top of that, unlike previous administrators, he did much of that task without an assistant administrator and with little clerical help. That may be why some things slipped through the cracks and mistakes were made, Russell said. Dukes agreed, saying that he understood that cutting costs and downsizing do not make someone popular. He said he believed any dissatisfaction around the government center with Hamilton was “resistance to change.” Hamilton got some support from one regular in the commission audience: former planning commission member Anthony Palmieri. Hamilton’s annual salary is $135,000. The severance package in his contract, which runs through March 2013, would award him a lump sum equal to five months of pay. Read more in the St. Petersburg Times.

Alexandria, Virginia (population 139,966): Alexandria officials are welcoming a new city manager who they say will begin working in December. The City Council announced Monday that it has formally signed a contract with 35-year-old Rashad Young, who was the city manager for Greensboro, N.C. Young will begin work on Dec. 12 at an annual salary of $245,000. Young succeeds James Hartmann, who left the post in May to work for Seminole County, Fla. The city’s chief budget officer, Bruce Johnson, has been serving as acting city manager and will return to his old job. Young is Alexandria’s first African-American city manager. Read more at The Washington Post.

Vista, California (population 93,834): Patrick Johnson will make $199,000 annually when he takes over as Vista’s city manager in January, under a contract approved unanimously Tuesday by the Vista City Council. Johnson, who has served as the city’s assistant city manager since 2007, will take over for Rita Geldert when she retires at the end of the year. Geldert’s salary is $211,546 and Johnson’s salary is $186,637. Johnson’s contract also includes $500 per month for a vehicle allowance and $90 per month for a cell phone. Geldert’s contract includes the same provision. Johnson’s contract also includes a 5 percent raise in July 2012. The contract also allows Johnson to sell back up to 80 hours of accrued vacation time each year, requires Vista to pay medical and dental insurance for him and his family and the premium on a $500,000 life insurance policy. Councilman Steve Gronke called it a great contract. Other City Council members praised the outgoing city manager and said Johnson has been groomed for the job. Johnson, a native of San Diego, has worked for local government for more than 17 years. He began working for Vista in 1998 as a management analyst. Johnson received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in public administration from San Diego State University. In addition to assisting Geldert with the daily operations of Vista, he has served as the project manager for the design and construction of the new Civic Center. Councilman Dave Cowles said the city probably saved several months and thousands of dollars by hiring someone who already worked for Vista. Johnson also received high recommendations from his boss. After the meeting, Johnson said he was happy with the contract and excited to take the reins in Vista. Johnson, 41, said he hopes to meet with council members early next year to set priorities and goals. He also said he plans to tackle the city’s ongoing structural deficit. Read more at the North County Times.

Somerset County, Maryland (population 26,470): Doug Taylor is scheduled to take the oath of office today as Somerset County’s new administrator. Taylor, the director of the Somerset County Roads Department for the past seven years, will be sworn in at 2 p.m. at the start of the Somerset County Commissioners meeting. Taylor was appointed to the new post two weeks ago but didn’t start his new job until this week. The county has been without a permanent administrator since the retirement of Sam Boston on Sept. 1, 2010, about six weeks before his death from cancer. Cindy Ward, a former administrative aide to the Commissioners for the past 15 years, has served on an interim basis since then. The county administrator serves at the pleasure of the County Commissioners and is appointed following each election. Taylor will serve out the remainder of the current term until the 2014 election. Read more at DelMarVaNOW.

American Canyon, California (population 19,454): Dana Shigley, currently the city manager of Anderson, Calif., will become American Canyon’s new city manager, the City Council announced Tuesday. Shigley, whose start date will be Jan. 2, will be paid $170,000 per year minus a 6 percent furlough deduction put in place as part of the city’s deficit elimination program. She will replace Richard Ramirez who is retiring. Shigley, 48, has a background in public finance, economic development and budgeting. She has served Anderson, a Central Valley city of about 10,000 population, for 11 years, first as finance director, grants manager, redevelopment agency executive director and assistant city manager before being named the city’s chief executive. Vice Mayor Joan Bennett praised Shigley’s qualifications. As part of the interview process, Councilmember Belia Bennett hosted a dinner to get to know the finalists personally. Shigley holds a master’s degree in public policy from California State University, Sacramento and a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from CSU San Bernadino. She is a credentialed city manager and has more than 20 years of experience in federal, state and local government. Shigley said she and her husband, Paul, plan to live in American Canyon. Paul Shigley has a background in journalism and lived in Napa while working for the Weekly Calistogan newspaper in the 1980s, Dana Shigley said. The couple have no children. Dana Shigley said she and her husband have spent time in Napa in the past without visiting American Canyon. Read more at the American Canyon Eagle.

Las Animas County, Colorado (population 15,507): Las Animas County Administrator William Cordova resigned abruptly last week, county officials said Monday. County Commissioner Mack Louden said Cordova did not give a reason for his resignation on Wednesday. Cordova became the county administrator in 2002. Prior to that he was Trinidad’s city manager. Louden said plans to fill Cordova’s position are in the early stages. Leslee Fresquez, deputy county administrator, said as of Monday, the county commissioners had not made a decision about the position. Louden said that Cordova did his job well. Cordova could not be reached for comment Monday. Read more at The Pueblo Chieftan.

Chadron, Nebraska (population 5,851): Former Chadron Police Chief Ted Vastine has been appointed interim Chadron city manager, effective Monday, Oct. 24, even though he is out of town and won’t return for more than a week. The Chadron City Council, currently a three member body, unanimously approved Vastine’s appointment at a brief special meeting Friday afternoon. The previous city manager, Sandy Powell, resigned Monday, in the wake of a recall election that took John Chizek and Steve Duncan from their council positions. Vastine served as Chief of  Police for Chadron from 1976 until he retired in 2003. Widely respected and well liked in the community, Vastine was The Chadron Record’s Citizen of the Year in 2002. Council member Karin Fischer, who made the motion to appoint Vastine, said he was visiting family in Ohio and would return Nov. 1 or 2, but the appointment was made effective Monday “in case decisions need to be made” before his return. Fischer also said she was confidence that Vastine would refer any police issues brought to him to the current chief, Tim Lordino. The council has scheduled a special meeting for Thursday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. to discuss advertising for a permanent city manager. Read more at The Chadron Record.

Tonganoxie, Kansas (population 4,994): A 90-minute work session Monday devoted to the search for a city administrator and further discussion on the topic at the Tonganoxie City Council’s regular council meeting produced limited progress. It was the council’s first extended discussion of the search since it voted Aug. 22 not to extend Mike Yanez’s $87,800 annual contract past its Dec. 31 expiration. Mayor Jason Ward said the three issues before the council in the work session were an update of the city administrator’s job description, whether to hire a firm to lead the administrator search and agreement on an interim administrator with the now-certainty that a new administrator will not be hired before Yanez’s contract expires. Although discussion on the job description exhausted the 90-minute work session, the council was unable to work through all the description now in place. It was only during the council’s regular meeting that the council voted, 3-2, to seek requests for proposals from firms to guide the city administrator search. That wording for that request will not be ready until Nov. 28. Council members agreed that didn’t allow enough time to get a new city administrator hired before Yanez’s contract expired even without the RFP process. With that in mind, Ward proposed to the council that Yanez’s contract, should he be willing, be extended until a new administrator was found. Councilman Bill Peak “wholeheartedly disagreed” and asked for an executive session to discuss non-elected personnel. The meeting ended with no further discussion of an interim administrator. Peak and Dennis Bixby opposed the RFP to find an outside search firm. Both councilmen expressed concern about the cost. The city has three search offers, including those from the Kansas League of Municipalities and Springsted Inc, the city’s consulting financial firm. Those two entities would charge $4,499 and $8,500, respectively. The two councilmen also argued the council could perform the task with the aid of a volunteer professional committee Ward proposed as a possible alternative to a professional search firm. However, the majority of the council agreed on the need to hire a search firm. Councilman Chris Donnelly questioned whether the council could devote the time the job needed, noting the failure of the council to complete the job description in the 90-minute work session. That discussion will continue at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Assistant City Administrator Kathy Bard will prepare a summary of the changes in the job description agreed upon Monday for that meeting. Read more at The Mirror.

Garner, Iowa (population 3,129): The Garner City Council unanimously approved a contract Tuesday for the community’s new city administrator. Randy Lansing, city administrator in Cascade since 1998, was selected from a list of five finalists. He replaces Brent Hinson who recently resigned to take a similar job in Washington, Iowa. Lansing’s two-year contract includes a base salary of $70,155. He will also receive health insurance coverage with the city paying the premium. The city will pay moving and relocation expenses of $2,000, transitional housing expenses of $600 per month for six months or until Lansing’s home in Cascade is sold, whichever comes first and time off to pursue his masters degree in public administration. The contract also states that Lansing will make his cell phone number public so that the citizens of Garner can contact him concerning city business. Lansing is scheduled to start in Garner on Dec. 19. Read more at the Globe Gazette.

Albany, Texas (population 2,034): Albany city leaders have accepted the resignation of City Manager David Ramon. The resignation was accepted by Albany City Council during an executive session held late Monday night. Albany Mayor Sally Maxey told KTXS News the city has no comment on the matter. Read at KTXS.

Fowler, Colorado (population 1,182): The Fowler Board of Trustees have hired Dan Hyatt to serve as the town’s part-time interim town administrator. Hyatt began his duties on Oct. 11, according to Mayor Pat Christensen. Christensen, acting on the request of the board of trustees, has provided administrative duties to the town for the past four months on a volunteer basis. The board of trustees has been searching for an appropriate interim administrator for the past four months. While struggling with the search, the trustees asked Hyatt, who is also the town’s attorney, if he was willing to take the position on a part-time interim basis. Hyatt accepted and this will allow the trustees to resolve budget issues before making a decision regarding a permanent town administrator. Hyatt has 28 years of management experience with his own companies, 16 years experience as an elected council member and approximately seven years experience in city management.
Any legal work for the town will be performed outside of his hours spent providing administration services. Hyatt has 28 years experience in business management owning and operating multiple corporations and 16 years of experience as an elected city council member for the city of La Junta, including serving on the city’s utility board, planning commission, and briefly on the library board. He served one term as an elected member of the Colorado Municipal League’s board of directors. Hyatt was appointed by the governor and ratified by the Colorado Senate as a member of the Colorado Limited Gaming Commission serving as its chairman for six years. He served as interim city manager and later as city manager for the City of Rocky Ford for seven years. He has practiced general law including representation of municipal clients. Read more at the La Junta Tribune Democrat.

Bandera, Texas (population 1,081): With a $62,000 salary on the table, City of Bandera Public Works Director Mike Cardenas was unanimously voted in as City Administrator during City Council’s Oct. 20 regular meeting. One councilmember joked that it’s going to be a happy Christmas in the Cardenas household. Councilmembers Nancy Montgomery and Maggie Schumacher recommended Cardenas for the position. Montgomery said she felt the administrator position, shared between Cardenas, City Secretary Linda Boshek and Mayor Horst Pallaske since Gene Foerster’s resignation in April, created too much pressure for three people to handle separately. Cardenas said the eight-month initial term was a win-win for him and the city. With taking on the role of city administrator, Cardenas said he has an individual in mind to promote to supervisor, so he can better split his time between the two positions. Cardenas has worked for the city for 23 years, as public works director since 1989. Schumacher said Cardenas would provide the leadership the city needs in what has been a contentious year for council. Foerster resigned in April after scathing public criticism from councilmembers, and council’s actions have drawn national attention after firing most of its police department to budget for contingency and capital improvement funds. According to Boshek, Cardenas has been paid an extra 15-percent on his base pay per month for his one-third role as temporary city administrator along with Boshek and Pallaske. Boshek also received a 15-percent boost, and Pallaske received $500 per month. Schumacher initially recommended Cardenas’ salary be increased by $1,000 per month for taking full responsibility for the administrator position, but was swayed after debate from Pallaske and Councilwoman Brandi Morgan. Morgan said she felt Cardenas should receive at least the roughly $1,500 now shared by the administrative trio, in addition to his salary as Public Works director. She recommended adding $22,000, half of that budgeted to hire a full-time city administrator, to his salary. After voting to unanimously to appoint Cardenas to the position, council discussed other business while City Treasurer Ernest DeWinne calculated budget options for Cardenas’ proposed salary. Councilman John Hegemier said he felt Morgan’s suggested pay raise was “too generous” because Cardenas would still be splitting his time with the Public Works department. After further discussion, Cardenas said he would be willing to accept a $62,000 annual salary. Council voted unanimously to accept his suggested salary. Read more at The Bandera Bulletin.

Transitions: Spartanburg County, SC; Santa Maria, CA; Stephens County, GA and more

Spartanburg County, South Carolina (population 284,307): The interim administrator of Spartanburg County resigned over the weekend. Nelso Marchioli held the post for only two months. He is the former Denny’s president and CEO. He filled the position left by Glenn Breed, who abruptly resigned in April. According to councilwoman Jane Hall, Marchioli made a personal decision to leave the job. Jim Hipp, deputy administrator, will take over the job, while county officials search for a permanent replacement. Read more at WSPA.

Santa Maria, California (population 99,553): For Rick Haydon, the move to becoming Santa Maria’s new city manager isn’t a big one — it’s just down the hall to the right. The 49-year-old Haydon, assistant city manager for the past 11 years, was chosen by the Santa Maria City Council this week to replace Tim Ness as Santa Maria’s top administrator when Ness retires Dec. 30. Ness, whose retirement was announced Tuesday, has been the city’s top administrator since 1995, and prior to that served as deputy city manager. Ness is among several city officials to announce recently that they are leaving. Larry Lavagnino said  Oct. 3 he wouldn’t seek another term as mayor in the 2012 election; Fire Chief Jeff Jones last week announced he would be retiring Dec. 19; and Chief Deputy City Clerk Pat Perez will be stepping down Dec. 16. All this means that when Santa Maria administrative staff returns from its New Year’s break, Haydon will have a new office. Ness’s retirement was informally announced at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. The council made the decision to select Haydon in closed session later that night. Haydon earned a bachelor’s degree at Fresno State University and a master’s in public administration at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. He has worked as a management analyst in Fresno and a financial analyst in the San Joaquin Valley town of Dinuba, where he also served as the budget and employee-relations manager, a job he currently handles in Santa Maria. Haydon also worked as a grants administrator and special projects manager for the Monterey-Salinas Transit District, and later served as business manager for the Monterey Police Department. He came to Santa Maria in 1996, when he was hired as assistant to the city manager and was promoted to his current position four years later. Haydon will inherit a city that has faced four straight years of declining revenues and increasing expenses because of state budget cutbacks. As the man who delivers the city’s budget report to the City Council each year, he’s well aware of its financial condition. Haydon will be just the third city manager in Santa Maria in the past 23 years. Wayne Schwammel served from 1989 to 1994. Ness took over in 1995, and Haydon will move into the office on New Year’s Eve. Read more at the Lompoc Record.

Stephens County, Georgia (population 26,175): John Rutan has resigned as Stephens County administrator. Rutan made his resignation public Friday, and it took effect Friday. He said he has communicated with the County Board of Commissioners. Rutan said he does not have another job lined up at this time. He did say he would like to move toward an engineering position. He was hired in April 2008 as Stephens County administrator. He said it has been a great learning experience, as well as an eye-opening one. Rutan cited working with employees and getting a lot done with limited funding as two of the things he is proud of regarding his time as administrator. He described the people working in Stephens County government as wonderful. Rutan was a solid waste director, geographic information systems coordinator and surveyor for Henry County, Ga., between 1984 and 1997. In 1998, he was a plan reviewer for Fulton County. From 1998 until he was hired as Stephens County administrator, he managed projects, such as some involving roads and rezoning activities, for a number of firms. No announcement had been made as of Friday evening about selection of an interim administrator. Stephens County commissioners are set to meet starting at 8:30 a.m. Monday at the historic county courthouse in Toccoa. Read more at the Independent Mail.

Perrysburg, Ohio (population 20,623): Perrysburg city administrator John Alexander said he plans to step down from his post on June 1, 2012. Mr. Alexander, 63, has been city administrator since January, 2005. An attorney, he said he is leaving so he can spend more time practicing law and working on research and writing projects on public policy. The city is expected to begin searching for Mr. Alexander’s replacement early next month and assemble a list of applicants by mid-January. Mr. Alexander was previously the Lucas County administrator. His past jobs also include the chief of staff for the commissioners and former Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner, and public safety director for the city of Toledo during the 1990s. Read more at the Toledo Blade.

West St. Paul, Minnesota (population 19,540): The West St. Paul City Council accepted an early retirement agreement with City Manager John Remkus at a special meeting Tuesday. Remkus was not present for the meeting, but had previously signed the agreement, which the council accepted in a swift, 10-minute meeting. Assistant City Manager Sherrie Le, who now moves into the role of acting city manager with Remkus’ departure, said Remkus — who is currently on vacation — had been mulling over the idea of early retirement for a while. Le said even though the city appointed her as acting city manager, the council will still be going through a search process to find a full-time city manager. Le, who is also still serving as the assistant city manager, human resources director and golf course manager, said she wouldn’t “completely rule out” applying for the full-time city manager position, but it “hadn’t been (her) plan.” Le said the city has been offering an early retirement package to its employees, but none of them had taken the option until Remkus decided to do so. Remkus, who is in his 60s, was hired by former city manager Tom Hoban in 1981 as the city’s finance director. He served the city in that capacity until 2008, when City Manager Arbon Hairston left suddenly. Read more at the Southwest Review News.

Leander, Texas (population 15,705): Leander’s City Council voted tonight to hire Kent Cagle as the city’s new manager, filling on a permanent basis the position that opened unexpectedly this year after former City Manager Biff Johnson died of a heart attack. Cagle, who was not able to make it to the meeting Thursday night, said he was excited to be moving to a community with “explosive growth in its future.” Cagle has been the city manager of Duncanville, a town of more than 38,000 south of Dallas, since 2001 . He replaces Robert Powers, Leander’s finance director, who had been serving as interim city manager since Johnson died in March. Cagle’s salary was set at $180,000. His contract includes a car allowance of $650 and a phone allowance of $150. Johnson was paid a salary of $184,425 when he held the position. He had a car allowance of $800 a month and a phone allowance of $200 a month, both after taxes. In his time as interim city manager, Powers received a salary of $160,000 and a car allowance of $400 a month. Powers’ phone was provided by the city. Cagle, who has a master’s degree in public administration from Texas Tech University, worked as an administrative analyst in Lubbock and a senior budget analyst in Plano, and served as the director of budget and risk management for the city of Carrollton before moving to Duncanville in 1997. He began his tenure in Duncanville as assistant city manager. Cagle’s current salary is $176,345 , and Duncanville gives him a $650 per month car allowance , and a $40 a month phone allowance. The City of Duncanville had no complaints against Cagle on file. Cagle was picked from a group of five candidates the city named earlier this month: Elizabeth Grindstaff, an assistant city manager in San Angelo; Susan Thorpe, a deputy city manager in Peoria, Ariz., David Vela, an assistant city manager in Abilene; and Greg Vick, the interim city manager of Elgin, were also considered for the job. Cagle, who grew up in Sonora, said the Hill Country feels like home and that Leander’s school district was a big pull because he has three children. Read more at The Statesman.

Bellmead, Texas (population 9,042): According to Mayor Joshua Collier, City Manager Victor Pena has decided to resign after a five or six month disagreement with the city council. Collier says council members have been unhappy with the direction Pena is leading Bellmead, and that’s why they have scheduled a special meeting Monday to address his resignation. Collier says the council will work out a severance deal that would include keeping Pena around for another three months as a consultant for the many city projects he was actively involved in. Another item on the agenda will be to discuss hiring the Texas First Group to find an interim city manager.  The council is hoping the company can find a retired or experienced former official to be their new city manager. Pena was elected city manager in October of 2009. The special council meeting will be Monday, October 24 at 5:30. Read more at KXXV.

Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona (population 8,819): Two former city managers interviewed before the Dewey-Humboldt Town Council in a special session meeting Wednesday, and the council offered Jim Rumpeltes the job of interim town manager. Rumpeltes brings 30 years of experience to the job and an interesting background with the City of Surprise where he was city manager from 2003 to 2007. In response to a question from Councilwoman Nancy Wright about how he would handle ethical issues on the part of council members, Rumpeltes said near the end of his time with Surprise, he turned in to the Attorney General’s Office several council members for violations on legal and ethical issues. Councilman John Dibble said the D-H council has had some rough times and perhaps a poor reputation, and asked if Rumpeltes was prepared to tackle the job. In addition to manager and two years as assistant manager for Surprise, Rumpeltes worked for 15 years as county administrator for Clallam County, Wash., and seven years with Spokane County as budget director. Prior to that he was a Vista Volunteer in East Los Angeles for a year. He’s been active in the United Way, Rotary Club and YMCA. Rumpeltes said his management style is open with no surprises. He likes to go over expectations and keep everyone up to speed, and said his door is always open. During the interview, he handed council members a three-point plan of action for the next two months before Yvonne Kimball begins in January. The town has offered Kimball a contract and is waiting her approval and signature. First on the list is to help council fill vacant positions. He also will keep in regular communication with the mayor and council, including a weekly email on Fridays he calls “Things You Need to Know.” Lastly, he will help prepare for the start of the new town manager with a list of issues and loose ends, scheduled meetings for the first week, and getting keys and business cards. Interim Public Management offered the town two candidates to consider. The town also interviewed Cynthia Seelhammer, who council members said also was well qualified for the job. Rumpeltes starts work on Monday. Read more at The Daily Courier.

Flora, Illinois (population 4,665): Monday afternoon’s Flora City Council meeting had the City see the end of a long search for a City Administrator end with Randy Bukas being sworn into the position. The decision to hire Bukas was approved by a unanimous vote. He will be paid $750,00 [sic] a year, plus vacation time and benefits. Read more at The Clay County Advocate-Press.

Highwood, Illinois (population 3,675): The city of Highwood announced Friday that Scott Hartman will take over the daily operations of the city on Monday morning as the community’s new city manager. Consulting Interim Manager Kenneth Marabella has held the post since June, when the city parted ways with former manager Greg Jackson. Hartman was among 40 applicants, reported Mayor Charlie Pecaro, adding that his display of energy and patience secured the job after aldermen conducted two rounds of interviews with finalists. Hartman also brings more than 15 years of municipal management experience, including former roles as village manager of Pingree Grove in Kane County and city administrator of Marengo, in McHenry County. Both towns are about the size of Highwood, Pecaro said, and offer similar council-manager governing structures. Hartman’s experience focused on community and economic development, financial management, labor and service contract negotiations and strategic planning, according to the Highwood news release. The City Council unanimously confirmed the hire Tuesday night. Read more at the Highland Park News.

Leland, North Carolina (population 3,243): The Leland Town Council on Thursday appointed a new town manager. David Hollis was announced at Thursday night’s meeting as the town’s new top administrator. He will replace retiring manager Bill Farris. Farris is set to leave the town position in December. Hollis is slated to start working in November so there will be a transition period. The move to appoint Hollis, however, was not without complaints. The motion, approved 4-1, was met with stark opposition by Barnes. Barnes said council members were to only interview four candidates, but instead called in two more candidates after one had to take care of a family matter. That should have left three candidates to be interviewed, he said. But Councilwoman Pat Batleman said Barnes was not there for the entire interview process. Barnes said he only left after he found out about the addition. He said he left because the move to add a fifth candidate frustrated him. Batleman contested and said there were five candidates the whole time. At the end of the meeting, Barnes met with Hollis. “I don’t have a problem with you, I just have a problem with the procedure,” he said and shook Hollis’ hand. Read more at the Star News.

Wilmington, Vermont (population 2,086): As the town attempts to rebuild following the historic flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene, the Selectboard will also have to find a new town manager. After serving six months as Wilmington Town manager, Selectboard members accepted Fred Ventresco’s resignation Thursday. Thomas Consolino, chair of the Wilmington town Selectboard, said the town manager didn’t see the job as a good fit and Ventresco was not comfortable with the position. He said Ventresco started as Wilmington Town Manager in April and resigned Oct. 13. Consolino said they are looking for a replacement for the town manager. James Burke, member of the Wilmington Selectboard, said members of the board will have done research and possibly have an interim town manager selected by Oct. 18. Before Ventresco accepted the position, Fire Chief Ken March served as the town manager, who was appointed by the Selectboard following the resignation of Bob Rusten, who accepted a position as assistant city manager of South Burlington. Read more in the Brattleboro Reformer.

Transitions: Mohave County, AZ; Clermont County, OH; Alexandria, VA and more

Mohave County, Arizona (population 200,186): County officials have confirmed that County Manager Ron Walker plans to leave his position at the end of next year. Walker was hired as the county manager in May 2001 at a salary of $87,000 and was placed in charge of a $151 million budget and 1,200 county employees. The Board of Supervisors approved a new contract with Walker in 2009 and extended it by 18 months in January. He currently makes more than $170,000 and is in charge of $77 million budget and 777 employees with around 117 positions unfilled. He will go off the payroll on Dec. 31, 2012. In the last two years Walker has been involved in a number of conflicts between the public and the county. In August 2010, Golden Valley resident Luca Zanna filed a lawsuit against the county, the Board of Supervisors and Walker for violating his rights because Supervisor Buster Johnson asked Zanna to stop passing out flyers on county property during a town hall held by Sen. John McCain in November 2009. Zanna also accused Walker of libel after a letter to the editor from Walker and a letter from Sockwell were published in local newspapers. Zanna later dropped that claim from the lawsuit. Walker and the county were involved in another conflict in February 2010 when he refused to let Kingman resident Mervin Fried enter the County Administration Building with a pitchfork. Fried was arrested for trespassing and after a lengthy court process was acquitted of the charges. Fried was arrested again earlier this year after he wore a shirt with an obscenity on it to a public meeting on the county tax rate. He is currently fighting the charges. In March 2010, Walker increased the security presence at the County Administration Building by installing a metal detector, hiring more security officers and requiring all residents to check their guns when they entered the building. At the same time the Board approved changes to the county’s policies such as a dress code for Board meetings, prohibiting the public from passing out political information on the county grounds and prohibiting weapons in county buildings. According to a profile written in a 2002 edition of the Miner, Walker served 26 years in the Navy and retired as a captain in 1994. He has a bachelor’s degree in business from Eastern Texas State University and was teaching seventh and eighth graders in San Benito, Texas when he joined the Navy in the late 1960s. He went through the officers program and started work as an aerospace engineering duty officer for anti-submarine aircraft on aircraft carriers. He later moved to working on fighter planes. He earned two masters degrees in systems management from the University of Southern California and in financial management from National University while in the Navy. He served on the USS Saratoga in the aerospace repair facility during combat action in Libya and during the Achille Lauro cruise ship hijacking in 1985. He also was a senior leader in various other Navy aerospace maintenance and engineering organizations, including Attack Carrier Air Wing Fifteen, Naval Air Station Miramar, in San Diego, a deputy commander for Naval Aviation Depots in Washington D.C., an adjunct professor in management science at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, Calif., and a director of the Department of the Navy Total Quality Management Training Center and Naval Leadership Training Unit in San Diego. When he retired from the Navy in 1994 he moved to Lake Havasu City and started work as a management consultant with the Federal Quality Institute of Washington, DC. He completed performance audits and worked with executives. He ran in the 2000 primary against Treasurer Dora Goodmiller and lost. He then applied for the county manager’s position. He was one of four finalists and was offered the job in 2001. Read more at the Daily Miner.

Clermont County, Ohio (population 197,363): Clermont County Administrator David Spinney has announced plans to retire Jan. 1. Spinney has served as the county administrator for the past 10 years. Prior to serving as county administrator, Spinney was an assistant county administrator and the director of planning and development. He was the Milford city manager between 1988 and 1994. Spinney was the town manager of Indian Head, Maryland between 1985 and1988.  Spinney has been a public servant for more than 36 years. Spinney said his biggest accomplishments involve local transportation and infrastructure improvements. Read more at Consider This Clermont.

Alexandria, Virginia (population 152,583): When Rashad Young arrives in Alexandria to begin his job as the new city manager, he plans to listen for nuance as well as broad points of view. The council plans to vote on and execute his contract Monday. Young, the city manager in Greensboro, N.C. (population 269,666), has had experience with thorny community issues both in North Carolina and in Dayton, Ohio, where he previously worked. The Alexandria that Young walks into is a community with a $566 million budget and several major challenges around every corner. The future of the Alexandria waterfront, the relocation of 6,400 federal workers into the city’s Mark Center and the fate of the GenOn power plant property after its shutdown next year all offer chances for city government to succeed — or fail. Young said he had been briefed on those issues but needs to learn more. Working in the Washington area has long been a goal for him, and these issues “will shape this community for years to come,” he said. Young and his wife of nine years, Tameka, drove from Greensboro to Alexandria for a weekend visit and toured the city by car, foot and boat. They have not decided where to live or what schools their two boys, both preschoolers, will attend. Young said one of his accomplishments in Greensboro was reorganizing city government, which he completed, he said, by “asking, ‘Why is it structured this way? Does that help or hinder our [goals]?’ If you lead with what you’re trying to accomplish, rather than ‘Does this fit the personalities we have?,’ I think you have a better conversation, a better basis for what you’re trying to achieve.” Read more at The Washington Post.

Young came to Greensboro in October 2009 after being city manager of Dayton, Ohio, for three years. He replaced Mitch Johnson, who was fired in March 2009. Young was hired with a base salary of $179,500. He turned down a 3 percent pay raise passed by City Council in 2010, saying he shouldn’t be given a raise if city workers weren’t. Council also passed a 4 percent pay raise for Young in July, but Young turned that down as well. It would have raised his salary to $186,680, plus given him a $400 a month car allowance. Read more at Fox 8.

The Alexandria job, which pays between $190,000 and $225,000, has been vacant since May, when James Hartmann left to work for Seminole County, Fla. Bruce Johnson, Alexandria’s chief financial officer has been acting city manager since May. He was not a candidate for the manager’s job. Read more at The Washington Post.

Plantation, Florida (population 84,866): Plantation city officials next week will name its chief administrative officer, who serves as the right hand man to the mayor. Gary Shimun, Davie’s former Town Administrator, was chosen from a field of 73 applicants. Davie officials fired him in January amid complaints he kept council members in the dark and ignored calls from residents. Unlike most cities in Broward County, Plantation’s elected mayor acts like a city manager, running the city’s day-to-day business, supervising department heads and preparing the budget. Mayor Diane Veltri Bendekovic’s salary is $117,221. But Plantation’s mayor has had an assistant who serves in a similar role as a city manager. If the Council approves the hiring on Wednesday, Shimun would replace Dan Keefe, who is retiring Dec. 30. Shimun is expected to earn the same salary as his boss. Councilman Bob Levy said Shimun’s resume was the only one he was sent. He said the council was asked to interview Shimun privately by next week. “I put in a call to him yesterday but he hasn’t returned my call,” Levy said. “He’s a credentialed city manager which is important. On paper he looks great. His qualifications of course are impeccable but I do want to know what happened in Davie, that’s what I want to ask him about.” Read more at the Sun Sentinel.

Eau Claire, Wisconsin (population 65,883): City Manager Mike Huggins announced that he is resigning from his position, effective mid-December. Huggins has served as Eau Claire City Manager since 2006. During a phone interview, with the Chippewa Valley Post, Huggins said he is in good health, does not have another job lined up, nor does he plan on moving from the City of Eau Claire. When asked, Huggins said he was not planning on running for any political seat nor does he, at this time, plan on pursing another career for the City of Eau Claire. The City Manager is responsible for the hiring and managing of the city staff; carrying out the directives of the City Council; and assisting the City Council in developing policy and strategic directions to provide for the common good of the people of Eau Claire. In his blog post, Huggins said his priorities as City Manager include providing the appropriate executive leadership to assure timely, equitable, and fiscally responsive delivery of City services; encouraging informed and responsible citizen engagement in local governance and community decision-making; and strengthening the community and intergovernmental partnerships essential for maintaining a high quality of life for all residents. With Huggins resignation, the city council must now appoint an interim city manager and start the process of recruiting a permanent city manager to replace him. The process could take anywhere from  3 to 6 months from Huggins last day on the job. Read more in the Chippewa Valley Post.

East Lansing, Michigan (population 48,579): More than 100 people attended a farewell ceremony for Ted Staton on Sunday at the Hannah Community Center in East Lansing. Staton served East Lansing as City Manager for 16 years. Speakers including East Lansing Police Chief Juli Liebler, Mayor Victor Loomis and representatives from the city council, Michigan State University and East Lansing Public Schools paid tribute to Staton’s service.  Staton was presented with a series of gifts from local leaders throughout the event – a varsity letter jacket, books and a video looking back at his tenure – but the most impressive was a check presentation for the newly established Staton Family Endowment Fund. The fund honoring the Staton family’s commitment to education has raised $25,450 so far. The money will be used by the East Lansing Educational Foundation to add tools like books, technology and musical instruments to East Lansing schools. Staton will become the city manager of Upper Arlington in Ohio, and the speakers took pleasure in ribbing Staton about moving to Ohio State University territory. Even Staton’s goodbye cake depicted a Buckeye succumbing to a Spartan. Read more in the Lansing State Journal.

Tigard, Oregon (population 48,486): New city manager Marty Wine will take hold of Tigard with a $140,000 annual salary on Dec. 1. While much of her eight-page contract is standard and mirroring that of former city manager Craig Prosser, Wine will also get her requests granted for a $4,800 subsidy to pay for rent for six months and money up to $10,000 for closing costs in the sale of her current home in Newcastle, Wash. The council members acknowledged her requests were “not common but not unheard of,” and considered the difficult housing market for Wine’s move. Wine will also get one week of paid vacation when she begins, although city policy now indicates employees must wait six months to get any paid time off. Councilor Marland Henderson called the terms a “friendly offer” and the council voted unanimously to approve the five-year contract, which can be terminated at any time. This means a pay bump for Wine, who said her current salary as assistant chief administrative officer of Renton, Wash., is $132,100. The salary is also slightly below that of Prosser’s, which was $140,907 when he left office, interim city manager Liz Newton said. Read more at The Oregonian.
Cowley County, Kansas (population 36,311): Jeremy Willmoth, the finance director for Raytown, Mo., will become the new Cowley County adminstrator. The new administrator is expected to start the job Dec. 1. According to interim administrator Phil Jarvis, Willmoth was notified Saturday by consultant Bob Saunders, who facilitated the search, that he had been selected. Willmoth has agreed to take the position and already notified his current employer, Jarvis said. He has been Raytown’s finance director since January 2008. Raytown is located southeast of Kansas City, Mo., and has a population of around 29,500. He previously was employed as the deputy director of finance for Jackson County, Mo., also in the Kansas City area, from May 2006 to January 2008, and was budget administrator for the same county from July 2000 to May 2006. Willmoth earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Park University in Parkville, Mo., in 1999 and a master’s degree in public affairs from the same school in 2006. Read more at the Arkansas City Traveler.

Willmoth will be offered a starting annual base salary of $90,000; a monthly car allowance of $300 and monthly cell phone allowance of $50; family health and dental insurance offered at the same rate charged to other county employees; and eligibility for 10 working days of vacation and 12 sick leave days upon full employment with the county. Additionally, Willmoth will be allowed to obtain three written bids for moving expenses, with the county to pay the lowest bid for relocation to Cowley County. The projected date of full employment is on or before Dec. 1. Read more at The Winfield Daily Courier.

Duluth, Georgia (population 31,942): A selection committee appointed by the Duluth City Council recommended Tim Shearer, former city administrator for Angels Camp, CA, as the sole finalist for the position of Duluth city manager. The council will soon act on the committee’s recommendation, according to an announcement by the city. Shearer was selected following a nationwide search that included rounds of interviews and in-depth reference and background checks. The city received a total of 31 resumes from individuals throughout the United States. If approved, Shearer would succeed Phil McLemore, who is retiring after 15 years of dedicated service as city administrator. The council recently changed the name of the position from city administrator to city manager to reflect the actual duties of the position. McLemore officially retires on Dec. 31. “I have been blessed with the opportunity of serving Duluth for the past 15 years working with great people to take Duluth to a higher level of quality and livability,” he said. McLemore plans to stay on for a few months to assist with the new city manager’s transition into the job. Shearer has more than 20 years of experience in local government, including the past 15 years as the administrator for Angels Camp, a city with a population of 3,441 in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Angels Camp is the only incorporated city in Calaveras County, the home of Mark Twain’s famous “Jumping Frog Jubilee.” The remainder of the county is unincorporated. Prior to his service in Angels Camp, Shearer spent six years leading Sycamore Township in Ohio.  He also has over 28 years of military service and is a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. During his tenure in Angels Camp, Shearer was responsible for bringing stability and financial security to the city by restructuring its finances and aggressively pursuing grants and other outside funding sources, the announcement stated. He also formed a regional transportation agency and worked with the business community to develop a Branding Marketing Action Plan. Shearer is also reportedly knowledgeable and proactive in economic development. Shearer holds a master’s degree in International Relations and Strategic Studies in addition to a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and Political Science. He and his wife Paula are parents of three boys. Read more at the Duluth Patch.

Juneau, Alaska (population 31,275): City Manager Rod Swope has made it official – he’s retiring for good on March 31, 2012. Swope already retired from the city once, more than two years ago. At the time, the CBJ Assembly unsuccessfully went through the process of trying to find a replacement. Swope took six months off, and agreed to come back and work on a two year contract. Now he says he’ll stay on a little longer than that. That means he’ll be stepping down in the middle of the city’s biennial budget process. Swope generally puts the budget together early in the calendar year. The assembly then holds hearings on it during March and April, and approves it – with changes – in May or June. The assembly was scheduled to hold its annual retreat on Tuesday, where the topic of recruiting a new city manager was on the agenda. Read at KTOO News.

North Andover, Massachusetts (population 29,562): Andrew Maylor finally made it past being a finalist. For the first time since 2004, when the Swampscott town administrator began seeking a town manager’s post, Maylor has been offered a position, this time in North Andover. The Board of Selectmen, which currently has four members due to the recent resignation of Daniel Lanen, unanimously voted Monday to offer Maylor the position of town manager, subject to successful negotiations and an additional background check. After the vote, selectmen took a recess to call Maylor, who accepted the offer. Maylor, 49, has served as Swampscott town administrator since 2002, and is the chairman of the board of directors for the Essex Regional Retirement System. He has applied and been named a finalist for several town manager positions, including in Billerica, Wakefield, and Winthrop. As of Monday, he was also among the four town manager finalists in Winchester, along with outgoing Malden Mayor Richard C. Howard, Saugus town manager Andrew R. Bisignani, and Belmont town administrator Thomas G. Younger. Younger was also a finalist for the North Andover post. Selectwoman Rosemary Connelly Smedile said having “such great candidates” made a final decision difficult, but the board chose Maylor. Selectman Donald B. Stewart said Maylor indicated to the board in interviews that he could start the job within 60 days of giving notice in Swampscott. Connelly Smedile and the board’s chairwoman, Tracy M. Watson, were appointed to negotiate with Maylor. Maylor would take over the seat vacated in July by Mark Rees, who served as town manager for 10 years before taking the city manager’s job in Portland, Maine. Read more at the Boston Globe.

Stephens County, Georgia (population 26,175): John Rutan has resigned as Stephens County administrator. Rutan made his resignation public Friday, and it took effect Friday. He said he has communicated with the County Board of Commissioners. Rutan said he does not have another job lined up at this time. He did say he would like to move toward an engineering position. He was hired in April 2008 as Stephens County administrator. He said it has been a great learning experience, as well as an eye-opening one. Rutan cited working with employees and getting a lot done with limited funding as two of the things he is proud of regarding his time as administrator. He described the people working in Stephens County government as wonderful. Rutan was a solid waste director, geographic information systems coordinator and surveyor for Henry County, Ga., between 1984 and 1997. In 1998, he was a plan reviewer for Fulton County. From 1998 until he was hired as Stephens County administrator, he managed projects, such as some involving roads and rezoning activities, for a number of firms. No announcement had been made as of Friday evening about selection of an interim administrator. Read more at the Independent Mail.

Carlsbad, New Mexico (population 26,138): A former city administrator has been appointed to take over as interim administrator for the city of Carlsbad while the City Council looks for a permanent hire – and he’s doing it for free. Mayor Dale Janway announced Friday that he had selected Jon Tully as the interim city administrator pending City Council approval at their regular meeting Oct. 25. Tully has been retired for six years, but was a city employee for 33 years – the last 13 years as city administrator. The position became open after current administrator Harry Burgess accepted the position of county administrator in Los Alamos. He said his strategy is to move projects that are currently in progress toward finality, like the various construction projects, adding that city government is “always in a continuum.” According to a press release, Tully has asked to serve without pay until a new city administrator is found. On Friday, Janway also announced the selection committee for a new city administrator. The committee is made up of Mayor Pro tem Wesley Carter as chairman; councilors Janell Whitlock, Paul Aguilar and Dick Doss; and community members Mario Salinas, Steve McCutcheon and the Rev. Robert Smith. The committee will be charged with bringing the four top applicants to the mayor and council. Carter said Friday that the committee is advertising regionally for a new city administrator, placing ads in the local newspaper as well as in Albuquerque and Las Cruces newspapers. Carter added that, with contract negotiations with the union pending at the start of next year, it would be unfair to throw someone new in right away. Janway said in the release that the city is indeed fortunate to have a person of Tully’s caliber to serve in the interim. Read more at the Carlsbad Current-Argus.

Somerset County, Maryland (population 26,470): Doug Taylor, the director of the Somerset County Roads Department for the past seven years, was named the new county administrator in a 3-2 vote. Taylor has been in charge of the County Roads Department since 2004. During his time there, Taylor had overseen renovations of Wenona Harbor and Websters Cove Marina, the rebuilding of the county dock in Crisfield, the replacement of several bridges in the county and numerous repaving projects. Prior to working for the county, he was employed at Eastern Correctional Institution. Although his appointment was effective Tuesday, Taylor won’t start his new job until Oct. 24. The county has been without a permanent administrator since the retirement of Sam Boston on Sept. 1, 2010, about six weeks before his death from cancer. Cindy Ward, a former administrative aide to the Commissioners for the past 15 years, has served on an interim basis since then. The county administrator serves at the pleasure of the County Commissioners and is appointed following each election. Taylor will serve out the remainder of the current term until the 2014 election. The previous board of County Commissioners decided not to look for a permanent replacement for Boston until after last November’s election, saying it would be unfair to hire someone, and then have them possibly lose the job a few months later under a new board. Read more at DelMarVaNOW.

Burlington, Massachusetts (population 24,498): There were visible emotions at the Burlington Board of Selectmen’s meeting last night as long-term Town Administrator Robert Mercier announced his retirement. Mercier said he would officially retire in May of next year, after the passing of the FY2013 annual budget. Mercier became Burlington’s first Town Administrator in 1980 and held the position until 1986. From 1986 to 1998, Mercier held other positions outside of town; doings stints as the Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO with offices in Woburn and as the town administrator for Billerica in Boxford, before returning to Burlington. Mercier said he would guide the town through the planning and completion of next year’s budget process. He also said he would help in any manner the Selectmen wished to help with the transition. Mercier ended by saying how difficult it is for him to leave a position he loves and the people he works with that have become his friends. After Mercier read his retirement announcement, all the members of the Board and Assistant Town Administrator Thomas Hickey all took turns expressing their thoughts. All agreed they were saddened to hear the news, but happy for Mercier and wished him well in his retirement. Chair of the Board Walter Zenkin said the news, which he learned earlier in the day, “shocked and saddened” him. Selectman Bob Hogan, who is also Burlington’s Director of Veteran Affairs, said Mercier will be missed by the town employees. Hickey agreed, explaining that Mercier first hired him in 1991 and four and half years ago brought him on as the assistant Town Administrator. Read more at the Burlington Patch.

Auburn, Maine (population 22,433): Police Chief Phil Crowell said Tuesday he will spend the next three weeks researching ways the City Council can find a permanent replacement for ousted City Manager Glenn Aho. City Councilors voted 6-0 Tuesday night to appoint Crowell to perform the city manager’s job until the next council meeting on Nov. 7. That night, councilors are expected to come up with a replacement plan. Crowell will remain police chief in title during that time. He said he plans to look for a search firm to help find Aho’s replacement. Councilors voted Monday to terminate Aho’s employment agreement, placing him on 90 days’ paid leave. According to Aho’s employment agreement, he is due a severance package equal to six months’ salary and benefits if he is terminated without cause. Under Aho’s $109,000 salary, that amounts to $54,500, plus unused vacation and benefits. Mayor Dick Gleason said Monday that councilors did not discuss Aho’s severance package or who would succeed him. The City Charter says the assistant manager can fill the role in the manager’s absence, but the city has not had an assistant manager since July 1. Up to July 1, Crowell acted as assistant manager while Aho and his department heads worked out a new, team-based management approach. Crowell said he has faith in the team approach and it would stay in place. In addition to Aho and the assistant manager job, the finance director position is still vacant. The city has hired Jill Eastman to fill that slot, but she is not scheduled to begin until Nov. 7. Crowell said he would move to fill the vacant fire chief’s position. Geoff Lowe, assistant fire chief, has been acting as interim chief of that department. For his part, Crowell said he was happy with his job as police chief and was not looking to be city manager permanently. Read more at the Sun Journal.

East Moline, Illinois (population 20,726): East Moline has a new city administrator, according to a news release issued this morning. Cole O’Donnell is scheduled to start the job on Jan. 3, 2012. O’Donnell was selected from a field of 11 finalists recommended by the executive recruitment firm Voorhees Associates LLC. O’Donnell is a graduate of Ballard High School in Huxley, Iowa. He attended Iowa State University where he earned both his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1991 and his master’s degree in public administration in 2003. O’Donnell has 17 years of experience in city administration and finance. O’Donnell currently lives in Algona, Iowa, where he is city administrator. He will be relocating to East Moline with his wife, Peggy, and four children, Evan, Samantha, Colin and Liam. Read more at the Quad-City Times.

Ashland, Oregon (population 20,078): A former city manager for Oregon City will take the reins of Ashland’s city government as officials here search for a new city administrator. The City Council confirmed Larry Patterson’s appointment as interim city administrator earlier this week. Patterson will begin work in Ashland on Monday, overlapping for a few days with City Administrator Martha Bennett, who will end her five-year tenure in Ashland on Wednesday, Ashland Human Resources Director Tina Gray said. Patterson will likely serve as interim city administrator for four to six months. He retired from his Oregon City job in 2010 and told Ashland officials he wasn’t interested in becoming the permanent city administrator. He has 35 years of experience in municipal government. Bennett is leaving to take the chief operating officer position for Portland Metro, a regional governing body. Mayor John Stromberg said it’s a sign of Bennett’s strong leadership skills that she is moving from a town with about 20,000 people to a job where she will serve an area with more than 1 million residents. Stromberg said Bennett always demonstrated integrity, treated city staff respectfully while requiring accountability and communicated frankly with elected officials. He said Bennett, who is a parent, was a true member of the community, shopping at local stores and riding her bike around town. Bennett echoed those sentiments. She said Ashland is filled with people who care deeply about the community and various issues. Bennett said the town has big city-caliber city government staff members who choose to live and work here. The Waters Consulting Group, Inc., which is based in Texas, is conducting a nationwide search for a new city administrator for a fee of $21,500. The salary range for the job is $116,864 to $137,978 annually. Bennett is at the top of that salary range. Her health care and retirement benefits are worth nearly $66,000 per year, Gray said. The total value of her salary and benefits is about $203,700. While he is interim city administrator, Patterson will earn a salary, cash payments in lieu of benefits and a rental housing allowance each month that would equate to $174,324 if he worked for a full year, according to city of Ashland Human Resources Department figures. He will receive $350 per month for use of his personal vehicle at work, while Bennett had a $400 personal vehicle allowance, according to Patterson’s employment agreement with the city and Gray. Read more at the Mail Tribune.

Hyattsville, Maryland (population 15,570): Following the early resignation of former city administrator Gregory Rose, the Hyattsville City Council unanimously appointed Police Chief Doug Holland as the acting administrator, despite some concern that Holland’s new tasks may hinder the daily operations of the police department. Mayor Marc Tartaro recommended the appointment to the council during Monday night’s council work session. Rose officially resigned on Friday, about three months before the end of his contract, saying that his wife is ill and needed to move back to his family in Texas. Councilman Tim Hunt (Ward 3) suggested appointing Holland, but to only keep him as acting city administrator for four weeks, when he would then step down in hopes of the council hiring a full-time city administrator. That motion was changed to say that rather than removing Holland from the position after the four week period, the council would review his position and would make a decision then to either remove him, keep him for longer or hire a full-time replacement at the Nov. 7 meeting. They discussed the immediate need of having an acting city administrator help the understaffed administration and keep a checks and balances system between the city staff and council. Hunt also requested that they look at potential programs offered by the Maryland Municipal League, as there could be someone within the program they could hire as acting city administrator, he said. Tartaro said bringing in someone new at this time would be a disservice to the city. Some council members questioned whether the police department would function soundly without the same full-time effort from the police chief. Holland said he will be asking certain officers in the department to take on some additional duties while he fills the temporary vacancy. The council agreed to provide detailed guidance on Oct. 24, during a special council meeting. Read more at The Gazette.

Opa-locka, Florida (population 14,155): Opa-locka Interim City Manager Bryan Finnie was appointed by the commission to fill the city manager’s position until June 2012. Finnie was previously appointed as the interim city manager for 90 days after former City Manager Clarance Patterson left his post on June 17. The city was planning to hire a new city manager by September, but instead they decided to offer the position to Finnie. His salary will be $105,000 per year. Among the projects Finnie is working on are: the Sherebondy and the Segal parks rehabilitations. The Sherebondy Park, near City Hall, has been under construction for years. The city project features a building that will be used as a gym. However, the renovation has been long and controversial. Before constructing the gym, the pump station located in the park needed to be upgraded in order for the building to have appropriate sewage. The city projected its completion at the beginning of this year, but due to delays in getting a constructing company, the pump station is in its initial stages of development. In the Segal Park, the city is implementing the second phase of the renovation that includes the restoration of the Helen L. Miller center, which will become a warehouse for the city. Finnie said that in his short tenure, he has encouraged Opa-locka to believe that goals are accomplishable. Finnie also was Opa-locka’s interim manager in 2010. He has worked as an economic development consultant and was also the director of Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust. Read more at The Miami Herald.

Montville, New Jersey (population 11,471): Township Administrator Frank Bastone has told department heads and Township Committee members he will be retiring at the start of December after five years serving Montville, officials said. Bastone will be retiring Dec. 1, marking 33 years since he began working as a public employee in Morris County. Bastone came to Montville in 2006. Prior to working in Montville, he was assistant administrator in Mount Olive. Bastone said he will work with the Township Committee and staff on a very smooth transition. Committee members talked about the matter in closed session Tuesday because it involved discussion of personnel whose duties might be affected when the town hires an interim administrator. Read more at the Montville Patch.

Mendota Heights, Minnesota (population 11,071): The Mendota Heights City Council announced their pick for city administrator Friday. Their selection, Justin Miller, is the city administrator for Falcon Heights. He was one of three finalists interviewed for the position. The city received 45 applications for the job of city administrator following the departure of David McKnight over the summer. McKnight left to take the city administrator position in his hometown of Farmington. Council member Jack Vitelli said that the three finalists were all solid candidates, but he was particularly impressed by Miller’s forthright and intelligent responses to interview questions as well as his personality. Vitelli also said that Miller had been the second choice in 2009 when McKnight was hired. Mayor Sandra Krebsbach said the decision was unanimous among the five council members. She said Miller’s strong leadership skills, current data management experience and technology skills will be an asset to the city. In addition, she said he will be instrumental in developing the city’s industrial park. Miller has served in Falcon Heights since 2006. Prior to that he has been employed with the cities of Chanhassen and Des Moines, IA, according to a statement released by the city. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science and business administration from Austin College of Sherman, TX and a masters of public administration degree from the University of Kansas. Miller is a credentialed manager with the International City/County Management Association. Tammy Schutta, Mendota Heights human resources coordinator, said that the city will perform a variety of background checks and negotiate a salary before offering a final contract, expected to be before the council Nov. 1. The pay range offered is $88,000-$107,000.* Diehm said Miller will need to provide 45 days notice to Falcon Heights upon finalization of the contract. That puts his start date sometime in mid-December. Read more at the Mendota Heights Patch.

Flagler Beach, Florida (population 8,698): After spending more than nine months in a holding pattern, city commissioners agreed Thursday night that Bruce Campbell should be Flagler Beach’s permanent city manager. Officials and residents heaped praise on Campbell, who has been the acting city manager since January. Residents, who filled nearly every seat in the room during the regular meeting, applauded the commission’s 5-0 decision. Mayor Alice Baker said Campbell has been “hands-on” over the last nine months. Having a local person who “votes here, lives here, pays taxes here,” makes a difference, she said. Flagler Beach has not had a permanent city manager in more than five years. Campbell succeeded former acting City Manager Caryn Miller. She was in the role for about three months after Interim City Manager Bernie Murphy retired. He spent about five years in that position. Campbell, who was employed as a building maintenance worker, was a finalist for the city manager position when the city interviewed applicants for the position in September. Previously, Campbell worked in various management positions at The Timken Co. and was president of Camaco/Lorain County Automotive. He lives in the city. Last April, Commissioner Steve Settle asked the other commissioners to consider hiring Campbell as the permanent city manager. But Chairman John Feind, Vice Chair Jane Mealy and Commissioner Marshall Shupe said they wanted to wait. Feind said he wanted to wait to see how Campbell handled the city’s 2012 budget. Several residents and former commissioners also spoke on Campbell’s behalf. Doug Baxter, president of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce and Affiliates, said he’s had a good working relationship with Campbell. Campbell said during an interview afterward that he’ll “keep doing what I’ve been doing.” Read more at The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

The key was Commission Chairman John Feind’s shift. He had opposed Campbell’s appointment going back to last spring, when he was winnowed out of 140 applicants. Feind was unsure about Campbell’s capabilities, Campbell’s executive experience having been exclusively in the private sector. Commissioner Jane Mealy was opposed on the same grounds. Feind was also turned off by the political rallying around Campbell’s candidacy, including petitions, noisy public meetings and a constant drumbeat of vocal protest whenever commissioners failed to give Campbell the final nod. In the end, Feind said he’d make his decision based on Campbell’s performance during budget season. That’s over. There were a few, all supportive of Campbell, including from Mayor Alice Baker, Richard Price, a resident in Flagler Beach who speaks at almost every commission meeting, Terry Potter, who’s been the public face of Save Flagler Beach, and Doug Baxter, president of the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce. Those comments, knowing the vote virtually sealed, focused on Mealy as they pressed for a unanimous vote. Even Ron Vath, the former city commissioner, made an appearance before the panel he’d served on almost a decade. He, too, asked for a unanimous vote, and thanked Feind in “coming forth with a reasonable” agenda item. Throughout, Campbell, who’d been silent almost the entire meeting, sat back in his chair, next to city attorney Drew Smith, his hands clasped, chewing, as he often does, gum and occasionally writing notes in his white legal pad. The only real surprise of the evening was Mealy’s vote: she actually made the motion to give Campbell the job–pending a routine background check. The motion, technically speaking, was not an outright job award, but to have the city attorney draft a contract with Campbell (the job pays about $90,000 a year), pending the results of a thorough background check. By one count, the entire discussion sealing Campbell’s appointment lasted less than 15 minutes Thursday evening, by the time the vote was taken at 7:43 p.m. In fact, it had lasted 18 months. Read more at Flagler Live.

McCook, Nebraska (population 7,338): The McCook City Council approved an employment agreement with J. Jeff Hancock for the McCook city manager position, Monday evening, during a regularly scheduled meeting at council chambers. During a phone interview this morning from Warrensburg, Missouri, Hancock said he was excited about coming to McCook and planned to initially spend as much as time as possible with city staff, employees and the City Council, in order to get an assessment of the community and begin building relationships. Hancock said examining finances, “to see where we are at,” would also be at the top of his early priority list. Hancock said he had found a place to live already and planned to move from Warrensburg on Friday, Oct. 28. Hancock’s annual salary will be set at $85,000 with an 11 percent retirement plan. Other benefits in the agreement include an additional $5,000 annual reimbursement to cover expenses of using his personal vehicle for city-related business; $6,000 to cover moving expenses; and a city paid cell phone. Hancock has 30 years of experience as a city manager, city administrator or assistant city manager. Read more at the McCook Daily Gazette.

St. Helena, California (population 5,765): St. Helena’s next city manager will be Gary Broad, current town manager of Ross in Marin County. The St. Helena City Council voted 5-0 Tuesday to approve Broad’s employment agreement, which gives him a $155,000 base salary — equal to that of former City Manager Mary Neilan. Broad was one of 116 applicants for the job. The council’s consultant, Bob Murray and Associates, prepared a list of 12 finalists. The council interviewed six of them, held follow-up interviews with two finalists, and selected Broad. Broad’s first day of work will be Monday, Nov. 14. Broad has a bachelor’s degree in economics and government from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and master’s degrees in city and regional planning and public administration from UC Berkeley. Broad has served in the town of Ross, population 2,300, for almost 20 years, as planning director, town administrator and currently town manager. He previously worked for the city of Petaluma for two years. Broad thanked the council for choosing him. He said he’s enjoyed meeting department heads and looks forward to working with city staff and the community. Broad lives in San Rafael. In addition to Broad’s $155,000 salary, his contract awards him medical, dental, life and long-term disability insurance; housing reimbursement of up to $24,000 for one year if Broad moves to St. Helena; up to $15,000 reimbursement for moving costs; 20 vacation days, five days of administrative leave, and two personal holidays per year; enrollment in the Public Employees’ Retirement System at the “2 percent at 55” formula, with the city paying the employee’s and employer’s contributions; and a matching contribution to the International City Management retirement plan of up to $200 a year. Like Neilan, Broad is entitled to six months of severance pay if the council fires him without cause. Broad may use a city vehicle for city business, or be reimbursed for mileage on his own vehicle. Read more at the St. Helena Star.

Broad will conduct his final Ross Town Council meeting Nov. 10 and begin in St. Helena Nov. 14. St. Helena’s previous city manager, Mary Neilan, was fired last March. Broad’s base salary in Ross was $196,000. According to the California state controller’s office salary report from 2009, Broad was making $220,234 in Ross, the highest among current city and town managers in Marin County. Read more at the Ross Valley Reporter.

Chadron, Nebraska (population 5,509): Chadron City Manager Sandy Powell resigned Monday, less than two weeks after a highly charged election that resulted in recall of Chadron mayor John Chizek  and vice mayor Steve Duncan. Acting at the first regularly scheduled meeting following the election, the three remaining council members, Donny Grantham, Levi Grant and Karin Fisher, moved a scheduled executive session performance review for Powell to the top of the meeting agenda, and emerged after ten minutes to unanimously approve Powell’s resignation and a separation agreement. The separation agreement provides Powell with the six months of severance pay specified in her original contract with the city, and stipulates that no other information about the agreement will be released to the public. Powell, who became city manager in April, 2007, had been the focus of criticism for  months. In Feburary  a group called Concerned Citizens of Dawes County and Chadron circulated petitions demanding that she be fired. The group later called for an investigation of Powell’s conduct with regard to a number of allegations of misconduct including interfering with citizens’ rights, creating a hostile work environment for city staff,  misuse of city funds for a pilot training class, and a conflict of interest regarding her husbands employment as subcontractor for the city wastewater treatment plant. A Scottsbluff attorney called in to act as a third party investigator of the complaints found that Powell had not acted illegally on any of 17 specific matters, but members of the Concerned Citizens group said the investigation was flawed, and unduly influenced in Powell’s favor by then-mayor Chizek. Read more at The Chadron Record.

Madeira Beach, Florida (population 4,505): Bill Mallory’s 33-week tenure as interim city manager has come to abrupt end. Mallory submitted a letter to Mayor Travis Palladeno and commissioners resigning from the position, effective Oct. 14. The resignation comes two days after a tumultuous city commission meeting in which Mallory was criticized and his actions questioned by past and current city officials. He will remain as chief of the Madeira Beach Fire Department. The city’s loss of virtually all of its senior management personnel, through resignations and firings, left Mallory performing the duties of city manager, community development director (zoning, plans review, code enforcement), community services (public works, streets, storm water, sanitation, parks, recreation), and finance (finances, payroll, risk management, insurance, human resources, parking). He had been in the final stages of interviews with candidates to fill some of these positions. Mallory has undergone criticism of his performance, mostly from Commissioners Robin Vander Velde and Nancy Oakley, almost since he took on the added duties of city manager in March. In August, Vander Velde had a critique of Mallory’s performance written by her inserted in his personnel file. That action was protested by Mallory and later overturned by the commission. At the latest commission meeting on Oct. 12, Mallory was criticized and accused of lying by Vander Velde, who said he failed to inform the commission that a financial consultant, brought in to help prepare the city budget in the absence of a finance director, was paid far in excess of an agreed-to limit. Vander Velde also accused Mallory of hiring the consultant as a part-time employee, rather than as a contractor, without the commission’s knowledge. Mallory said he had properly alerted the commission of the need to exceed the spending cap, and he said the status of the consultant as a part-time employee was recommended by the human resources manager to facilitate the payment process. The city attorney said Mallory could be reprimanded for failing to get a vote of approval before exceeding the spending cap established by the commission. At the same meeting, Mallory was faulted by former commissioner Martha Boos for interviewing the finance director candidates on his own, when, in her view, he lacked the financial knowledge to do so. Criticisms were also leveled by former city manager Jim Madden. Mallory defended his performance and work ethic in the resignation letter, saying he took on the additional jobs “without complaint, nor did I ask to have the terms of my contract amended to reflect those additional duties.” Mallory’s departure leaves the running of the city solely in the hands of the mayor and commission. Palladeno indicated the city is moving quickly to replace Mallory as interim city manager. He said he had spoken to another manager in city government regarding his availability and “have been assured that he can handle the position temporarily and will work to fill the code enforcement position immediately.” Though Palladeno did not name the individual he is considering, indications are it is marina director Dave Marsicano. Marsicano is the only manager left in Madeira Beach city government, and the mayor is known to be pleased with his performance as marina director. Read more at TBN Weekly.

Amid sharp criticism from residents and even one of its own members, the City Commission hired controversial former City Manager Jim Madden Tuesday to temporarily run the city. With a 3-1 vote, the commission offered Madden, also city resident, the job of interim city manager at a $2,000 per week salary. Madden replaces Fire Chief Chief Bill Mallory who resigned Friday as interim city manager after being accused last week by Madden and some commissioners of lying to the commission. Madden, who also called for Mallory to be fired, will now run the city until the commission can hire a permanent city manager, likely in December. A consultant hired to search for that new manager said he has received more 100 applications and inquiries from candidates in just the last two weeks. Mayor Travis Palladeno proposed Madden’s hiring and was supported by Commissioners Nancy Oakley and Robin Vander Velde. The three said the city is facing crucial deadlines to file required reports to the county and state and needs an experienced manager. Palladeno said a financial report is overdue to the state and a property tax report is due to the county next week. He and the other commissioners also hope that Madden can quickly fill several open positions, including finance director, planning/development director and code enforcement officer. Commissioner Terry Lister sharply disagreed, pointing out that Madden is currently suing the city over the severance package given former city manager W.D. Higginbotham Jr. by the previous commission. Madden also previously served as the city’s manager for two years until he was placed on administrative leave in 2004 (at his request) amid efforts to fire him. Previously, he was city manager in Pinellas Park until the commission there fired him in 1997. Despite repeated requests, Palladeno refused to allow Lister to propose another candidate for the interim manager position. At Vander Velde’s urging, Madden pledged not to access any documents relating to his lawsuit against the city. For more than a year, Madden has been a frequent visitor to city commission meetings, often criticizing the city’s budget and management. But Tuesday, it was Madden’s turn to hear sharp criticism from a large crowd of angry residents concerned about his record when he ran the city. Resident Steve Rayow said he decided to attend the meeting because he had become “so disappointed in the conduct of the members of this commission.” He said “something rotten” was going on in a city where the commission would want to bring back the “good old boy network” that included Madden and former Board of Adjustment chairman Joe Jorgensen. Resident Ken Jacobson begged the commission not to “scare away” a qualified permanent new city manager with less than a unanimous vote. Resident Diane Burkheimer chastised commissioners for not listening to residents. Resident Jan Stack similarly told the commission they needed to apologize to Mallory for what she said were “distasteful and tragic” comments about his job performance. Former city human resources manager Deborah Cline, who once threatened to sue the city for creating a hostile work environment and is now out of a job in a budget cutback, reminded the commission that Madden had twice resigned as manager and had problems with city employees. But despite that support and the continued determination of the three commission members (Vice Mayor Carol Reynolds did not attend the meeting), the loudest applause came when former Commissioner Steve Kochick told Palladeno, Oakley and Vander Velde they face a recall effort if they hired Madden. Nonetheless, after the vote to hire Madden, Palladeno asked the city’s attorney to draw up a formal employment contract so that Madden could begin his new/old job “as soon as possible.” Read more at the St. Petersburg Times.

Chesterfield, New Hampshire (population 3,982): Goshen Fire Chief Sue Labrie has been selected from a field of 20 candidates to replace outgoing town administrator Charlene Nardi. After Nardi resigned on Aug. 29 to become the new town administrator in Williamsburg, Chesterfield selectman wasted no time in the search for her replacement. Nardi has agreed to meet with Labrie to familiarize her with the job until she has settled into it. Keilson said that Labrie may also have access to a new program supported by the Hampshire Council of Governments that is designed to assist towns in selecting town administrators as well as providing training to new administrators. The town administrator is responsible for the operation of the Select Board office, oversight of town departments and grant administration for the town. The position is 32 hours per week for a salary of roughly $39,000. Labrie, 47, said she will continue on as fire chief at Goshen’s all-volunteer department. According to Labrie, the position became available at the perfect time. Labrie said balancing her two jobs will require prioritizing emergencies and evaluating if she needs to respond personally to a fire call. Having worked with residents of Chesterfield, Labrie says she feels as though she already has a nice sense of the community. Labrie and her husband Bob Labrie live in Goshen with their three daughters. Her first day on the job was last Tuesday. Read more at the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Williams, Arizona (population 3,023): After two years without a permanent city manager, Williams City Council members have hired Brandon Buchanan to fill the position. Following Dennis Wells’ departure in November 2009, Williams City Finance Director Joe Duffy has acted as Interim City Manager. In May, Duffy pressed the city to begin a search for a candidate to fill the position. According to Williams Mayor John Moore, the search for a city manager began with 89 candidates. City Council members conferred and narrowed the field to six individuals. After interviews, three candidates were called back for a second interview. Buchanan, City Administrator in Oakley, Kansas for the past three years, came out on top. Buchanan attended graduate school at the University of Colorado School of Public Affairs. Prior to that, Buchanan received his BA from Arizona State. He began his higher education pursuing an architecture degree before switching gears. After completing his degree program, Buchanan moved into internships with the city of Phoenix. He then received his Masters in Public Administration and eventually began work for the city of Oakley. Originally from Arizona, Buchanan and his wife, Corrie, from the Los Angeles area, hoped to eventually move back westward to be closer to family. The Williams City Manager position looked like an excellent fit. Oakley’s population, at close to 2,000 people, is just a bit smaller than Williams. Buchanan said small towns provide opportunities for managers to really get involved in the community. Buchanan will finish up in Kansas Nov. 3. He and his family will move immediately, with Buchanan showing up for duty at city hall in Williams Nov. 9. He plans to hit the ground running, visiting with residents to get a pulse on concerns in the community. Read more at the Williams News.

Madison, Florida (population 3,006): On October 18, the Madison City Commissioners met in special session to write a profile for a new city manager.  During the regular meeting on October 11, the commissioners ironed out a severance package for retiring City Manager Harold Emrich, who has held the position for almost six years. The position opened at a special budget meeting on September 27 when Emrich tendered his resignation. At that meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to accept Emrich’s letter. Emrich said that he was willing to remain in the office through his hiring anniversary date (March 14, 2012) in order to assist with a new manager’s transition. However, the commissioners voted to terminate his employment when his agreement expires on December 31, 2011. During the October 11 meeting, the commissioners discussed Emrich’s severance pay and benefits. Commissioners Myra Valentine and Judy Townsend moved to offer pay and benefits through December 31 with Emrich’s service ending on October 11. The motion was approved unanimously, and Emrich departed from the meeting. Paul Sharon of the International City/County Management Association offered assistance with the process at no cost to the city. He advised the commissioners to design a profile of the person they would hire, then advertise the position with the profile, salary range, and other pertinent factors. The commissioners will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, October 18, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall to discuss the profile. Catron stressed that the public will be welcome at the meeting to offer input into the description. The commissioners expect to close advertising at the end of November so that Sharon can have time to review the resumes submitted and offer recommendations. Following that, the commissioners will conduct a series of interviews. Mayor Jim Catron said that he expects to have a new manager in place in February. Meanwhile, he (Catron) will serve as far as legally possible to carry out the duties of a manager. According to City Attorney Clay Schnitker, Catron can sign checks and invoices, but cannot instruct employees or mediate employee complaints. The commissioners decided that department heads will continue to supervise employees as usual. Schnitker offered a short list of persons who might fill in for emergency service. The decision to accept Catron’s services following former commissioner Jackie Johnson’s comment that paying the severance package while paying an interim manager would be an extra burden on the taxpayers. Read more at Greene Publishing.

Flandreau, South Dakota (population 2,341): The Flandreau City Council has devised a plan for its city administrator search. Council members and Mayor Warren Ludeman discussed at last week’s council meeting the best way to proceed in hiring a replacement for Chuck Jones, who resigned last month from his post as city administrator. Council members will read, on an individual basis, the resumes that come in to the office and later discuss the candidates during a council meeting executive session. The topic came up at the Oct. 3 meeting when Ludeman announced during his mayor’s report that he would like to form a three-member “preliminary” committee consisting of him and a pair of councilors. However, council member Dan Sutton said he’d rather have the entire council review applications. Ludeman said an entire council screening of each preliminary candidate could result in a more complicated process. Ludeman said a smaller committee could quickly weed out any applicants that seemed unqualified on the surface. Council member Bart Sample said he thought the process of hiring of current police chief Mike Eisenbarth went well. Public safety commission members got together and ranked their preferences for each candidate, he said. Ludeman then informed council members that they would have to hold an official meeting with public notice each time they had a gathering in which to review candidates. Sample then suggested that each member review resumes individually, for review at future meetings. Sutton eventually made a motion stating that each councilor would individually review the applications and the full council would discuss them at a future meeting during an executive session. The motion passed, with all councilors voting in favor. City finance officer Tammy Pitsenburger said that as of the Oct. 3 meeting she had already received three applications for the position. Read more at the Moody County Enterprise.

Irwindale, California (population 1,366): The City of Irwindale appointed South Pasadena City Manager John Davidson to serve as its new City Manager effective Nov. 7 at its Council meeting Wednesday night. Davidson, who came to South Pasadena as a part-time manager in June 2009, was up against approximately 30 other applicants, said Sharmeen Bhojani, Human Resources Manager for Irwindale. And even though Davidson was just hired as a full-time employee for South Pasadena in April 2011, Mayor Mike Ten says this was part of the plan—that Davidson was brought on to help guide Assistant City Manager Sergio Gonzalez. Gonzalez came to South Pasadena in 2003 as a part of the community services department. He was promoted to Assistant City Manager in 2008. Read more at the South Pasadena Patch.

Rosebud, Texas (population 1,201): The City of Rosebud has a new city administrator – Larry Waller. He was appointed by the Rosebud City Council at a special meeting on Sept. 27. Waller brings a blue-collar and white-collar background of experience to the position.  He has served as a lineman for a utilities company and has owned a CPA firm. In addition, he has volunteered to help Rosebud in the past and also served as the Rosebud interim city administrator for the last two months. So, the city council knew who they were hiring. Before hiring Waller, the Texas Municipal League confirmed that the city did not have to post the position. He will work 40 hours/week and be paid $43,000/year. When asked what his goal was, Waller said, “As city administrator, I would like to work alongside City Council and the citizens of Rosebud to make the City a vibrant, more attractive place to live and work.” Read more at The Rosebud News.

Wheeler, Oregon (population 345): Wheeler’s search for a permanent city manager has become more urgent with the termination of interim city manager William Lee at a special meeting of its city council Monday evening. Lee, who worked previously in Jackson County as a code enforcement officer, had worked for Wheeler since Aug. 8. His availability was made known to the city in its search for an interim city manager through the League of Oregon Cities. According to Mayor Stevie Burden, it boiled down to a difference of opinion between her and Lee on how the city should be managed. In an email to the Citizen, Lee stated he felt he was being micromanaged by Burden in violation of the city charter and his contract. “The reality is I was never at city hall more than once a week, but found that tasks weren’t being completed in a timely manner” said Burden, noting that others in the community had expressed similar concerns to her. The council approved a motion to terminate its contract with Lee by a 3-2 vote. The mayor did not cast a vote. In the meantime, the Wheeler City Council continues its search for a permanent city manager. The council had previously reviewed its job description and announcement for the position and looks to begin advertising for the city manager position in the coming weeks. Read more at the Tillamook Headlight Herald.

Compensation: Home loan for Oakley CA City Manager

Last month brought the story of a county manager in Oregon who was receiving a home loan along with other good benefits.

This month, its a city manager in California whose home loan has made the news three times this week.

Oakley, California (population 35,432): Oakley Mayor Jim Frazier apologized this week for a lucrative housing benefit the city recently gave its top administrator that sparked a public backlash, promising to rescind the deal. Frazier began Tuesday’s City Council meeting by reading a statement in which he acknowledged that he and the other council members who approved the lucrative home equity share agreement with City Manager Bryan Montgomery had made a mistake.

The deal involved forgiving the balance on the home loan the city had given Montgomery in 2005, which would have allowed him to go from being $196,500 underwater on his mortgage to being guaranteed at least $170,000 in equity, amounting to a $366,500 windfall. Frazier, who recently announced that he is running for a state Assembly seat, called for the council to rescind the agreement at its next meeting. Council members cannot act on matters that do not appear on the agenda. Frazier noted that he and several of his colleagues had offered Montgomery the form of housing assistance as an incentive for him to stay, and pointed out that the city manager has been handling the responsibilities of three department heads whose jobs fell victim to budget cuts.

Councilman Randy Pope cast the dissenting vote in last month’s 4-1 decision to give Montgomery and the city equal ownership in Montgomery’s Brooks Court home. The agreement also guaranteed the city manager at least $170,000 from the sale of the property. At that time, the City Council voided its previous agreement with Montgomery, forgiving the $508,000 remaining on a 30-year, 2.5 percent interest home loan the city had issued him.

News of that action angered a number of residents, who roundly criticized what they considered the council’s largesse at taxpayers’ expense. And some who showed up Tuesday to protest were not appeased by Frazier’s mea culpa. Eve Diamond, one of two residents who addressed the council directly, expressed shock that the council canceled Montgomery’s debt at a time when many other residents have lost their homes to foreclosure. Jon LaBarge echoed her doubts about the sincerity of the council and Montgomery, who had announced earlier in the day that the public backlash had prompted him to withdraw his acceptance of the new agreement.

Montgomery sent a letter to council members before the meeting requesting that they nullify the home equity share agreement they had approved as part of his performance evaluation. He proposed returning to the previous arrangement, which had been offered to entice him to move from Nevada to the Bay Area. Montgomery had said previously that his home’s value has dropped so much that at this point he could not recover what he has already invested in the property. The house he bought for $685,000 is now valued by Contra Costa County at $311,500. In his letter, he emphasized that the home equity share agreement is legal and well-intentioned, and thanked council members for their “significant and courageous action.” But Montgomery also indicated that because the deal had been cast in the “most negative light possible,” it triggered a backlash.

Since the deal was reported, residents have expressed their outrage in online discussions, including a Facebook page.

Oakley loaned Montgomery $620,000 in 2005 when he came to the city, $70,000 of which was immediately repaid as part of a bridge loan. The city also had deferred Montgomery’s mortgage payments since April 1, 2009, and had waived the interest during that period.

Montgomery, who earns an annual base salary of $190,770, indicated in his letter that on Tuesday he paid the past three months of his mortgage and from now on will have the amount automatically deducted from his paycheck. Montgomery declined to respond to an email from this newspaper asking whether he also would be making the other payments that had been deferred since 2009, saying he would no longer discuss the issue.

But the matter isn’t over, according to Frazier, who in his announcement Tuesday said he would be asking the rest of the council to remedy other aspects of the situation. Frazier wants council members to:

  • Bring in an independent adviser to work with Montgomery on restructuring the kind of housing assistance he receives.
  • Discuss this issue in public from now on.
  • Ask Montgomery to apply to a commercial lender for the approximately $508,000 he still owes the city.And, if the city manager can’t get a loan for the full amount, Frazier proposed renegotiating the terms of his original agreement with an outside party. He asked the council in this case to:
  • Change the 2.5 percent interest rate to one in keeping with the current market.
  • Require Montgomery immediately to pay the city interest on the 27 months of deferred mortgage payments he received.
  • Prohibit all future deferrals of mortgage payments.
  • Come up with a plan for recovering a loss on the sale of Montgomery’s home if he leaves before 2020.

Read more at the Silicon Valley Mercury News.

The Oakley City Council had given its city manager what amounts to a $366,500 bonus as part of a sweetheart deal to rescue him from an underwater mortgage. The generous taxpayer-funded payoff far exceeds loan restructuring terms banks would offer borrowers who owe more than their homes are worth. Under the council’s agreement with Bryan Montgomery, manager of the community of 35,000 people, the city forgave a home loan it had issued him and received in exchange a far-less-valuable partial ownership of his property. It was the third time Montgomery received mortgage assistance from the city. When he took the job in 2005, the city issued the loan at an exceptionally favorable interest rate. Then, for the past 2 1/2 years, the City Council had allowed Montgomery to defer monthly payments without accruing additional interest.

The City Council agreed to the latest deal without consulting an outside adviser and after negotiating directly with Montgomery in closed session. That private gathering violated the state open-meeting law because a council majority cannot legally negotiate compensation in private with an employee. Michael Martello, a government attorney for 30 years and an expert on California conflict-of-interest law, says Montgomery’s dual role negotiating with the council a major change to his home loan, benefitting him at the expense of the taxpayers he was supposed to be protecting, raises concerns of ethical and legal conflicts of interest. Finally, the huge magnitude of the bonus, equal to nearly two years of Montgomery’s salary, appears to make it an illegal gift of public funds, Martello says. Oakley City Attorney Derek Cole, who was present during the closed-door discussions, denies laws were broken.

The public notice of the accord included a misleading report from Mayor Jim Frazier that was ghost-written by Montgomery. The report was prepared for the Sept. 27 public approval of the deal, which had already been bargained behind closed doors. The analysis contains no disclosure of the taxpayer cost. Instead, the Frazier/Montgomery memo claims “the fiscal impact of the equity share arrangement is unknown and subject to the market at the time the property is sold.” The important accounting question in evaluating the cost of the deal is not what the house will sell for sometime in the future; the issue is what the house is worth today — and that can be easily determined through an appraisal.

It’s been six years since Montgomery, 42, was recruited from Nevada and received the mortgage to help him ease into the pricier California real estate market. He bought his 3,361-square-foot Brooks Court abode for $685,000 with aid of a $550,000 mortgage from the city. The loan, at 2.5 percent annual interest, was to be paid off in 30 years. Montgomery last month owed the city $508,000 on the loan. Meanwhile, according to his county records, the sagging real estate market had depressed the home’s value to $311,500. In other words, he was underwater by $196,500.

Under the new deal, the council forgave the loan balance. In exchange, the city took 50 percent ownership of the house. But Montgomery is guaranteed at least $170,000 from a future sale, even if his half of the house is worth less. Thus, Montgomery instantly went from $196,500 underwater to owning $170,000 of equity, a net gain of $366,500 — all at taxpayer expense.

Once reached, the deal was placed on the council’s public consent calendar, the section of the agenda for routine items. The item piqued the curiosity of reporter Rowena Coetsee, whose story appeared Oct. 1.

Councilman Randy Pope objected to the Montgomery deal. Pope’s four council colleagues disagreed. Frazier insists “it is not costing the city” because the property has not been sold. By that logic, retirement accounts haven’t really lost money if we haven’t cashed them out. And homeowners with loans greater than the value of their houses aren’t underwater until they actually sell their properties.

Frazier claims the council acted because it didn’t want to lose Montgomery. But the deal contains no incentive for him to stay. For example, the council could have phased in a loan reduction, rewarding Montgomery each year he remained. Instead, this deal guarantees him cash if he sells the house and, hence, makes it easier for him to move.

Frazier also says the deal protects the city because Montgomery could have walked away as many underwater homeowners have done. But if Montgomery had defaulted, the city would have owned the entire house rather than the half it now owns. Second, under the city manager’s contract, defaulting would have been grounds for termination. Third, city managers who want to preserve their careers don’t want defaults or foreclosures on their records.

Loan modifications are usually for people struggling to make payments. On his salary, Montgomery should have had no problem covering his $2,173-a-month obligation. Nevertheless, the city had let him skip payments since April 2009, more than offsetting for him the furlough pay cut that other city employees had to absorb. Even with the pay cut, Montgomery earns about $200,000 a year in salary, deferred compensation and vehicle allowance. On top of that, the city is paying about $34,000 a year toward his pension plan. Read more at the Contra Costa Times.

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.

Economic Development and Redevelopment: St. Petersburg, FL, Dayton, OH, Scott County, MN, and more

“We’re coming to the conclusion that less is more.”–Jackson, Michigan, City Manager Larry Shaffer

St. Petersburg, Florida (population 244,769): A former St. Petersburg housing manager had what appeared to be a conflict of interest when he hired city contractors to repair his rental properties, according to a city audit. A St. Petersburg Times investigation reported last year that Thomas de Yampert used DRM Properties in 2004 to renovate two of his rental homes in St. Pete Beach. Since 2004, DRM received $859,000 worth of loans approved by the department managed by de Yampert, who was the city’s housing rehabilitation and finance manager. The Times reported in December that at least three other contractors worked on de Yampert’s personal properties:

  • Earl Pfeiffer, a general contractor who worked on one of de Yampert’s St. Pete Beach rentals, won $575,484 in contracts.
  • J. Cerda Roofing pulled permits on de Yampert’s rentals between 2002 and 2004 and won more than $100,000 in contracts administered by de Yampert’s department.
  • Irok Construction in 2005 renovated a garage of a St. Pete Beach rental owned by de Yampert and won $649,061 in contracts awarded by the city between 2003 and 2008.

The Times‘ findings, which also showed that there were no formal bidding procedures in de Yampert’s department and little oversight of his conduct, led Mayor Bill Foster to order an audit. After months of research, city auditors confirmed the Times’ account.

De Yampert, 62, announced his resignation in November 2010, but he didn’t leave the $85,000 job until Jan. 14. He had been in charge of the city’s housing and community work for 14 years. In the Dec. 17 Times story, de Yampert said he erred in judgment, but said he had little oversight of the process that awarded the contractors city contracts. Homeowners selected the contractors, he didn’t, he said then. But the audit concluded the opposite, finding that de Yampert’s department had few internal controls and bought property without City Council approval. De Yampert’s boss, housing and community development director Joshua Johnson, wouldn’t comment on the audit. The audit recommended that in the future, Johnson provide more oversight and involvement. Read more at the St. Petersburg Times.

Dayton, Ohio (population 141,527): Officials in a southwest Ohio city hope a plan for branding the city as immigrant-friendly will help bolster a shrinking population and rejuvenate its ailing economy. City commissioners in Dayton approved what City Manager Tim Riordan said is a framework for creating a more welcoming atmosphere at a time when all segments of the population are needed to help the city grow and prosper. The hope is to entice immigrants to live in Dayton and invite others of their nationality to join them, increasing the population and establishing businesses that would create jobs in an area hurt by lost manufacturing and other employment. In a decade that included the loss of major corporate employer NCR Corp., Dayton’s population dropped by about 15 percent from roughly 166,000 in 2000 to nearly 142,000 in 2010, according to U.S Census figures. The proportion of foreign-born residents is relatively small, just under 4 percent, or about 5,000, according to a 2010 Census survey.

Some planned recommendations aimed at boosting that number include increasing interpreter services in courts, government and health care agencies; creating a neighborhood district as a center for immigrant businesses; and recruiting tutors to help with language and literacy issues. Riordan said he has received some critical e-mails — most from outside Dayton — concerned that the community-wide initiative will attract illegal immigrants, but he says the plan is not about that. Steve Salvi, founder of Ohio Jobs & Justice PAC, is critical of the plan he believes will attract illegal immigrants to Dayton and possibly other parts of the state. Salvi objects to a proposed municipal identification card for immigrants who are ineligible for other identifying documents needed to access banking, health care and other services and said only illegal immigrants would fall into that category. He also opposes the recommendation for “immigrant-friendly” law enforcement proposals limiting checks of immigration status to those suspected of serious crimes only.

City officials will review all of the recommendations to determine which ones are to be implemented as they are rolled out over several years. Immigrant Festus Nyiwo, a former attorney from Nigeria now attending an area college, welcomed the plan. Ismail Gula, a native of Libya and a part-time teacher at the University of Dayton, strongly favors recommendations that would reduce barriers to immigrant business development.

Dayton is not alone in trying to integrate immigrants into the mainstream community. The city of Columbus began an initiative in 2004 aimed at helping immigrants navigate government and other services, and officials there consider it a success. Columbus was among 20 cities recognized last year by the National League of Cities for successful efforts to integrate immigrants into their mainstream communities. Read more at Canadian Business.

Scott County, Minnesota (population 129,928): If cities and townships want to score more jobs in Scott County, local business leaders say the county better start acting more like a business. The Scott County Association for Leadership and Efficiency (SCALE) compiled a group of local business leaders, real estate experts and others to identify strategies to further the county’s goal of securing enough employment by 2030 to support half of its labor force. The committee completed work this summer and shared its findings with local elected officials in a meeting last month.

To compete with real estate space in adjacent counties and other regions, the county needs to create and promote a consistent image and identify, as well address site availability.In the tussle for business development, the community also needs to toot its horn more, said Michele Foster, a real estate adviser who facilitated the group. A robust public-private fiber ring circles the county, but “a lot of businesses don’t know about it,” she said.Local leaders were encouraged to capitalize on the county’s strengths, which include a skilled, educated work force; open land along major transportation corridors and the availability of rail, airports and the ports of Savage. Shakopee Mayor John Schmitt said he’d put the county’s work force up against any in the country.

But the county also needs to work on its weaknesses: the perception of being “south of the river” with flooding closures, limited influence on metropolitan planning, limited higher education options, the lack of large corporate headquarters and underutilization of entertainment venues (among others).

Since each town benefits from nearby jobs, the goal of the group is for communities in the county to market their available land together, with one source for brokers to come to when they’re seeking information. Those at the meeting said local government staff must be able to deliver on their discussions with businesses without drawn-out processes.

When he meets with a company interested in coming to Savage, Stock said he knows what his council will support. Others in the room couldn’t say as much for their councils. There needs to be a collective consensus and commitment on economic development strategies and the money it may take – whether that be incentives or putting in roads and utilities necessary so land is developable, said attendees at the SCALE meeting. Read more at the Savage Pacer.

Southington, Connecticut (population 44,167): The town is urging local property owners to apply for a new state loan program designed to clean up and reclaim polluted industrial sites. Officials said they were told about the program late last month and have been reaching out to property owners who might qualify for it. A total of $25.8 million is available to businesses and property owners statewide, said Ned Moore, an economic development agent for the state Department of Economic and Community Development. Of that, $21.2 million is available in the form of low interest loans. The maximum an applicant can receive this year is $2 million. Another $4.6 million will be given out in grants; the largest single grant will be $500,000. Moore said more money will be given out next year. This loan and grant program is for brownfields, polluted former industrial sites that are either vacant or underutilized. Besides cleaning up the sites, loans or grants are also designed to spur economic development and create jobs, said Maya Loewenberger, an ombudsman for the DECD.

One project that town officials are hoping will be chosen is the planned Greenway Commons development off Center Street. A New York-based developer wants to turn the site of the former Ideal Forge Co. into condominiums. Part of the old factory complex was torn down this summer with the help of state funding. Read more at the Hartford Courant.

Pekin, Illinois (population 34,094): Roger Greer said he had just installed battery-powered smoke detectors “in every room with a bed” at the former retirement home he and his wife own. He hoped that would impress the state fire marshal administrator who inspected the building Friday. “He told me I wasted my money. They have to be hard-wired,” Greer said.

Even that upgraded fire protection, however, likely wouldn’t prevent the 16 struggling people who have come to call The Place on Prince their home for months from being forced out of the building the city has officially deemed dangerous. But, because Greer and his wife have apparently accepted that reality and have said goodbye to some of their paying house guests over the past two weeks, the city is giving those remaining until next Friday to depart. That news, delivered fresh Friday morning to some of the residents of the 21-bedroom facility at 601 Prince St., prompted smiles and hugs. One resident said she was ready to leave for a home she found in Farmington. Another named Angie, without such plans, hugged Roxy Greer, Roger’s wife and “our angel.” “I think we’re going to be here forever,” Angie told her.

“It will still take a $70- to $80,000 sprinkler system to do it,” Roxy replied. City fire department inspectors told the Greers just that last year when the couple sought to reopen the former assisted living and nursing home as a residence for homeless veterans. Still, since at least last fall they have taken in displaced people in return for what they call monthly donations of several hundred dollars that some can pay from their fixed incomes.

That was the extent of their strategy, she said, when the couple bought the former Place on Prince in April 2010. They said they didn’t know and weren’t told that, once the business previously occupying it closed and they bought it, the two-story brick structure must meet city fire codes that include building-wide sprinkler and alarm systems and wired smoke detectors. The residents they took in also didn’t know that until Sept. 16, when the city posted official notice on the building’s doors that everyone must be out by Sept. 30. Five days before then, the city council heard a dozen residents plead for a reprieve or at least more time. A day before the deadline, the city postponed the eviction and on Thursday set the new date of Oct. 14. That was earned by the Greers’ efforts to help the residents find new homes, a job that City Manager Joe Wuellner said the city has also taken up. The city has compiled a list of 17 public and private agencies and shelters which the residents can contact for help. All but two of them, however, are in Peoria or Woodford County.

Jim Walter, known to his fellow Place residents as Jammer, wasn’t impressed with the list or other housing options in Pekin. August had arrived to inspect the building Friday in response to Roger Greer’s appeal of the fire marshal’s report from the Sept. 16 inspection. Before he began, he repeated the caution Greer has heard repeatedly, that it’s the city’s fire code and its safety requirements he must meet.

“If I have to have a sprinkler system, I guess I have to,” said Roxy. When she and her husband might install it, and when the residents at Prince might reunite after next Friday, she doesn’t know. Read more at the Pekin Daily Times.

Jackson, Michigan (population 33,534): Jackson City Manager Larry Shaffer is recommending the City Council change direction and start razing vacant houses instead of rehabilitating them. Shaffer compared the growth in vacant housing — 462 homes, at last count — to the spreading of a disease. Shaffer said the city’s home values have fallen 32 percent since 2007 and are expected to fall 8 to 10 percent more next year. Property tax revenues have fallen from $7.9 million in 2007 to a projected $6.9 million this year. Compounding the problem is that nearly half of the homes in the city are not owner-occupied, he said.

Shaffer and Community Development Director Patrick Burtch said it was obvious the city was wasting money when it would buy a vacant home for $15,000, put more than $100,000 into it — as it did with one on Detroit Street — and be lucky to get back a quarter of its investment. But Shaffer and Burtch, who have been working for the city less than six months, did not want to recommend a policy change with anecdotal evidence. So, they had staff inspect the vacant homes and 1,400 empty lots, and built a database. Shaffer and Burtch estimate that it would cost more than $30 million to rehabilitate the homes and less than $5 million to raze them. Furthermore, they said reducing the supply of homes would create more demand, causing home values to stabilize or start to rise again.

Burtch and his staff, who worked weekends to complete the inspections in about two months, will present the data to the City Council on Tuesday. It will then go to the planning commission, zoning board of appeals, historic district commission and other bodies for recommendations before returning to the council for action.

Shaffer said if the council decides to change the policy, then the city will begin obtaining the homes and seek funding to demolish them. He said the city already owns some of the homes, and it will be relatively easy to get homes owned by the Jackson County Land Bank Authority and harder to get homes that are privately owned. The city could seek Community Development Block Grants to raze the homes, and form partnerships with lenders that have foreclosed on the homes to share the demolition costs, he said. Once the homes are down, the city could do landscaping and fill in curbs and sidewalks to make the lots fit better with the rest of the neighborhood and more attractive for redevelopment, he said. Read more at Michigan Live.

Windsor, Colorado (population 18,644): A proposal for an economic incentives policy was presented to the Windsor Town Board last Monday night. The proposal was explained by Stacy Johnson, the town’s business development manager. She told the board to think of the policy as a package of guidelines. The program is an incentive program offered to companies looking to expand or locate their facilities in town. Some of the incentives the board is considering to offer include waiving certain fees and taxes, an expedited permit review process and matching dollars for a training program. The focus for this first plan is on primary jobs and primary employers, Johnson said.

Town board member Kristie Melendez asked about incentives for redevelopment. Johnson said that was a great idea. Melendez was also interested in making sure the board kept in contact with the Downtown Development Authority. The board will consider the full document at a future regular session for adoption. Read more at the Windsor Beacon.

Princeton, Wisconsin (population 1,214): The lunch crowd at Once In a Blue Moon in downtown Princeton on a cool Wednesday at the end of September kept the two waitresses on duty hopping. Every table on this sun-drenched day was full, mostly with women lunching, laughing and talking. Owners Denny — in the kitchen, and Deena Ballagh — in the dining room, worked fast to keep customers fed and happy. When diners finished with their meals they browsed the retail section of the business. To all appearances, everything is good in this little spot in downtown Princeton. The downtown as a whole might not be so lucky.

Princeton, which once had a waiting list of businesses drooling for a spot to open up on Water Street, now has seven or eight empty storefronts. Sure, it still has the weekly flea market and a growing number of antique stores that bring folks in by the thousands. It still has Twister, which calls itself a lifestyle emporium, and the Pizza Factory with its award-winning pizza variations, and a number of other stores. But seven or eight vacancies in a relatively small downtown is not good.

The Ballaghs came from California in 1996 , encouraged by friends who got wind of the burgeoning Tracy Porter empire in Princeton. The home décor maven had her fledgling Stone House Farm Goods store on a main corner on Water Street and people all over (later on even Oprah became a fan of Porter’s hand-painted pretties) were beginning to take notice. John and Tracy Porter had started what became a multi-million business licensing their designs and selling women’s clothing, home décor, furnishings and jewelry. Tracy Porter was once a guest on the Oprah Show featuring young American entrepreneurs.

Mimi’s, an Italian restaurant that oozed charm across the street, was great competition, Denny said. After several years’ run, Mimi’s closed. Other retail stores followed. The Porters had long since moved to Ripon and opened a design studio there in a renovated Oddfellows Hall, and later a large retail store that lasted only a short time. More than a year ago the Porters sold their huge home and acreage near Ripon and moved to Santa Barbara, Calif., to open a swanky retail shop. They took with them Tracy Porter’s sister Robyn Mockus who had earlier taken over the old Stone House Farm Goods building in Princeton and named it georgie’s. It stands empty today, as does the Oddfellows Hall in Ripon. The Porters’ empire is gone.

Downtown troopers in Princeton such as the Ballaghs and Dennis and Kristin Galatowitsch over at Twister understand that to survive, businesses must continually reinvent themselves. The Ballaghs keep their menu varied and fresh. They added the gift shop.

Like so many others, Kristin Galatowitsch was drawn to Princeton by its charming downtown. As an attorney with an office in Wautoma in the late 1990s, she would travel from Wautoma to the courthouse in Green Lake via the back way that led her along Water Street in Princeton. Once In a Blue Moon, Stone House Farm Goods, and another now defunct shop called Henry’s caught her eye. She spoke to Maura Koutoujian at Henry’s about how she ended up in Princeton in a retail store.

The store that now holds Twister was for sale, the Galatowitsches always liked the idea of a loft apartment and the price was right. They bought it with the thought of living upstairs and renting the downstairs space. Dennis, a civil engineer, was completing a stint with AmeriCorps Visa. Even though neither of the Galatowitsches had retail experience Dennis decided to give it a go.

That was in 1999. Seven other new shops opened in downtown Princeton that year. Because the Galatowitsches live in the same building where they have their shop it is convenient and less costly than maintaining a home separately. Kristin continues with her legal work and also works in the shop. They have evolved and learned the business during the dozen or so years they’ve been at it. Other shops come and go but they stay. They sell an eclectic mix of goods including kitchen gadgets, candles, wine and beer, toys and women’s clothing. They select items for their shop that people won’t find at a mall. Kristin Galatowitsch is not discouraged by the number of store vacancies. She prefers to look at them as opportunities rather challenges. Read more at The Northwestern.