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.

Transistions: Riverside County, CA; Polk County, IA; North Las Vegas, NV and more

Riverside County, California (population 2,189,641): Riverside County Executive Officer Bill Luna is resigning his position as the top county administrator effective Oct. 4, county officials announced Thursday. Luna notified the County Board of Supervisors of his resignation on Sept. 15, and it was officially accepted Thursday. No reason was given for his decision. Former Executive Officer Larry Parrish will serve as the interim chief executive until a successor is found. Luna took over for Parrish in 2008, helping guide the county with its $4.7-billion budget through a recession that has been especially harsh in the Inland Empire. Read more at the Los Angeles Times.

Polk County, Iowa (population 430,640): Newly hired Polk County Administrator David Jones is scheduled to start on Oct. 12, county officials said this week. Jones comes via Tazewell County, Ill., where he has served as county administrator and managed a yearly budget of $56 million. He has worked for Tazewell County – population 135,394 – since 2006. He previously spent six years as an assistant to the city manager in Cleveland, Tenn. In Polk County, Jones will help oversee a $242.5 million annual budget in Iowa’s most populous county. He will also help make key decisions on how the county will weather lower property valuations that could cost several million dollars a year in lost revenue. County supervisors voted to hire Jones in late July. Jones’ annual base salary will be $155,000. He will also receive a vehicle allowance equal to $3,600 a year and annual deferred compensation payments equal to 5 percent of his salary, or $7,750. Supervisors have also agreed to pay Jones $12,000 for relocation costs. The Polk County job opened in April when former county administrator Ron Olson resigned to become city manager in Corpus Christi, Texas. Read at the DesMoins Register.

North Las Vegas, Nevada (population 177,426): After several key employees, including the city attorney and acting city manager, left this summer, North Las Vegas is adding a crucial member to its team: a new city manager. In a 4-1 vote, the City Council on Wednesday night ratified the appointment of Timothy Hacker. He starts next week. Hacker, the former city manager of Mesquite, was the only candidate considered for the position. Hacker will receive a $180,000 annual salary, plus benefits. His contract includes a six-month severance package if he is released without cause.  On why he was suddenly fired from Mesquite: I was surprised. It was a 3-2 vote of the council. Two of them talked to me about it and the three who voted for it never spoke to me about it. I was an at-will employee and the average city manager serves for three to five years. When you get over five years, you take some satisfaction. I don’t want to speculate, but the tough economic times just caught up with the mayor and City Council and they chose to release me.” Read more at the Las Vegas Sun.

Woodland, California: (population 57,080): Woodland officials announced Wednesday that Kevin O’Rourke, Fairfield’s retired city manager, will step in on Oct. 3 and serve as interim city manager there through March 2012. Woodland’s current city manager, Mark Deven, is departing Friday for a similar position in Arvada, Colo. O’Rourke served as a city manager for more than 30 years in the cities of Stanton, Buena Park and Fairfield, according to a news release. Following his retirement from Fairfield in 2007 after 10 years of duty, O’Rourke remained active in the International City/County Management Association and the League of California Cities. He most recently served as the interim city manager for Stockton, from October 2009 through July 2010. Read on The Reporter.

Lincoln Park, Michigan (population 36,248): City Manager Steve Duchane is leaving his job with the city. Duchane said today he accepted a position in Eastpointe and will likely leave the city in late October. Duchane has been the city’s chief administrator for seven years. Duchane will have a base salary of $105,000 and will receive $4,600 in lieu of medical benefits with an annual deferred compensation package worth $6,400. He is paid $102,500 in his current position. Duchane has been the focal point of controversy during his nearly 30 years of public service. He was fired in 2003 as city manager in Sterling Heights for falsely stating that he had a bachelor’s degree on his resume. He went on to obtain a bachelor’s in community development and public administration and a master’s in public administration from Central Michigan University. Duchane assisted in numerous collaborative projects with Allen Park, Wyandotte, and Southgate. He said he’d like to finish some of those projects before he leaves, including getting Allen Park to join the Downriver Central Dispatch in Wyandotte, which Lincoln Park and Southgate are members of. With Duchane leaving, city officials must decide whether they will hire another city manager, or go a different route. Councilman Thomas Murphy has said he doesn’t like the idea of a city manager while Mayor Frank Vaslo has said without one, the city could fall back into (a financial) hole. Duchane said he will help the city in whatever way he can in replacing him. Duchane has played a key role in several collaborative projects Downriver, Vaslo said, and he is a little worried that some of them may fall through without Duchane. Valso said it is important for the city to fill the void as quickly as possible. Read more at the News-Herald.

Clearlake, California (population 17,723): The Clearlake City Council voted at its Thursday evening meeting to appoint a new interim city administrator. Joan Phillipe, currently interim general manager for the Foresthill Public Utility District in Foresthill Calif. – located in Placer County – received a 4-0 vote from the council to fill the spot on an interim basis. Council member Judy Thein was absent for the vote. After discussing the appointment in a closed session that occurred immediately before the regular meeting, the council voted on the contract in open session. Bob Galusha, the city’s engineer and current interim city administrator, explained that in February, while Steve Albright was serving as interim city administrator, the city began a recruitment process to find a permanent candidate for the position, which hasn’t been filled on a full-time, permanent basis since Dale Neiman left last November. The city went through an extensive recruitment process, and in June had announced that Canadian Tully Clifford had accepted the job. However, Clifford withdrew later in June, as Lake County News has reported. Galusha said that in August the city began its second recruitment process, seeking a new city administrator either on an interim or permanent basis. He said they interviewed five candidates, three of whom were interested in the position both in an interim or permanent capacity. Phillipe was one of those three also interested in taking on the job permanently, Galusha said. After interviewing and ranking the candidates, the council directed Galusha to negotiate an employment contract with the top applicant – Phillipe, Galusha explained. Galusha said the interim contract was for six months, with an evaluation of Phillipe set to take place three months into the contract. If, at that point, it’s decided that it’s a good fit both for Phillipe and the council, “You could renegotiate the contract and do a permanent contract,” Galusha said. He said that Phillipe has a significant amount of experience in small towns, including time as city manager in the cities of Colusa, Colfax and Loomis. She also formerly served as executive director at the California State Sheriffs Association in West Sacramento, Galusha said. The contract that Galusha presented to the council proposed $65 an hour, or $11,267 per month plus benefits. Because Phillipe has been a past employee in the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the contract calls for the city to provide a portion of her PERS contribution, which is 12.3 percent of the $65 hourly rate. In addition, the city will give Phillipe a monthly housing allowance of up to $2,000, Galusha said. Altogether, the total cost is less than what has been budgeted for the city administrator position in the 2011-12 budget, said Galusha, who added that there will be a savings since the city administrator position will have been empty for the first four months of the fiscal year by the time Phillipe arrives. Galusha said Phillipe will report for work on Oct. 24. He said she currently is training a new general manager at Foresthill. He added that city staff recommended the council approve the contract. In response to questions from community members, Galusha and council members said Phillipe had a strong record that included experience with redevelopment. Read more at Lake County News.

Gilchrist County, Florida (population 16,939): A longtime county administrator is leaving. The Gilchrist County Commission voted three to two late today to fire Ron McQueen, effective immediately. He’s been with Gilchrist County for 17 years. Commissioner Randy Durden says McQueen had an unsatisfactory job evaluation about a month ago…and some commissioners remain unhappy with his performance. A special meeting to decide how to replace McQueen has been called for a week from today at 4pm. Read more at WCJB-TV.

Madison County, Virginia (population 13,308): Madison County Administrator Lisa Robertson is resigning.  Robertson says she’s going back to practicing law. The Madison County native has been the administrator since 2006. There is no word yet on who might replace Robertson and when that spot will be filled. Read at NBC29.com.

Lake Elmo, Minnesota (population 7,328): Bruce Messelt is trading in the city for a county. Messelt, Lake Elmo’s city administrator since September 2009, is leaving that post to become county administrator for Chisago County. The Chisago County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Messelt’s employment contract Wednesday. The county started its hiring process in July and Messelt was selected from 77 applicants. Messelt has more than 20 years of public and non-profit management experience, including work with the U.S. Department of Defense, the city of Tucson, Ariz., and Minnesota cities Moorhead and Lake Elmo. Messelt, a native Minnesotan and graduate of Concordia College and the University of Minnesota, is scheduled to start work Nov. 1 with Chisago County. Lake Elmo will hold a special meeting Sept. 27 to discuss the city’s plan to fill Messelt’s position. Johnston said the council will most likely request a list from the League of Minnesota Cities of people interested in filling in as the interim city administrator. Johnston said he hopes to have an interim city administrator in place by the time Messelt’s 30-day notice is up. The city council will decide if the city will conduct a search for a new city administrator itself or if it will hire a search firm, Johnston said. Read more at the Stillwater Gazette.

Lampasas, Texas (population 6,330): Pending the City Council’s negotiation of an agreement, an interim city manager could be hired Monday. A council member found Ron Wilde, a Cedar Park resident, online with Municipal Solutions, a nationwide staffing firm that helps city governments locate city managers and other personnel, Mayor Jerry Grayson said. The council selected Wilde out of a pool of three possible interim candidates. Grayson said he sees no reason for Wilde’s contract not to be finalized Monday. Grayson said Wilde previously worked in cities in Kansas and Washington. Wilde has a master’s degree in public administration, Grayson said. He also has experience managing a city with its own electricity distribution center, like Lampasas.  As the interim city manager, Wilde would run the day-to-day operations of the city, Grayson said. If the council approves the agreement for Wilde, he will begin work Oct. 10, said Stacy Brack, city secretary. Wilde could be contracted to work anywhere between six and 12 months, according to estimates by Brack and Grayson, until a permanent candidate can be found. The city is still searching for a full-time city manager since former City Manager Michael Stoldt was fired in late August. A job ad on the Texas Municipal League website states the position requires a bachelor’s degree in business, public administration or a related field, though a master’s degree is preferred, and at least 10 years of experience as a city manager or assistant city manager, including experience working in a city with an electric utility. Read more at the Killeen Daily Herald.

Stanwood, Washington (population 6,231): Former longtime Marysville city administrator Mary Swenson plans to attend her first Stanwood City Council meeting tonight as the temporary city administrator for Stanwood. Swenson is set to work 16 hours a week at a rate of $70 an hour. Her work will include moving the city through its upcoming budget process and labor negotiations, and the search for additional fire-fighting help. A contract employee with Prothman, a Seattle headhunting firm, Swenson plans to be on the job until Dec. 31 or until the city runs out of the $22,000 set aside for her work. For more than a year, Stanwood Mayor Dianne White has reported to City Hall most mornings to help city staff before she heads to her day job as a pharmacist. White, who is paid $1,100 a month for part-time mayoral duties, returns to her desk at the city during her lunch hour and then she’s back after her pharmacy shift ends in the afternoon. The mayor fired the city’s administrator in April 2010 because White decided the city needed a different style of management. Lagging tax revenues, however, didn’t allow Stanwood officials to hire another administrator, so the mayor stepped in. City clerk Melissa Collins has frequently phoned the mayor at the pharmacy to get her direction on a variety of subjects. At the end of Swenson’s service, White hopes to get from the new interim city administrator a report on administrative responsibilities and staffing needs, a development plan for each city department and a recommendation about how the city can better offer services that encourage economic development. Swenson, 54, retired from her job with the city of Marysville more than a year ago. Since then she has done some work for Prothman and the consulting firm Strategies 360. Read more at the Daily Herald.

Basehor, Kansas (population 4,613): The city of Basehor is moving ahead without former city administrator Mark Loughry, asking Basehor Police Chief Lloyd Martley to serve as an interim replacement. Basehor Mayor Terry Hill said after a special city council meeting this morning that despite some legal questions surrounding the council’s vote to remove Loughry Monday, the members had decided to move ahead with his termination. Hill said he would visit Loughry later today to collect his city keys and make arrangements to clean out his office. The city will also give Loughry a lump-sum severance payment provided for in his contract, Hill said. The amount of that severance payment was not yet available from the city this morning. During the meeting, Hill said he would talk to Martley about becoming the interim city administrator. The council took no formal action during the meeting, which was called for the purpose of determining if further action was needed after the council’s vote Monday to remove Loughry as administrator. Hill’s announcement followed a 15-minute executive session to discuss non-elected personnel and a 10-minute executive session to discuss finding someone to fill the duties of the city administrator. Meanwhile, Hill said the city would begin searching for a new permanent city administrator “almost immediately,” despite some legal uncertainties surrounding the council’s 3-2 vote to remove Loughry. Hill said one purpose of today’s special meeting was to warn council members that by letting their vote stand, they may be opening the city up to a lawsuit because of a violation of Loughry’s employment contract and a possible conflict with a charter ordinance passed by the city in 1995. The three council members who voted to remove Loughry — Dennis Mertz, Fred Box and Iris Dysart — said they were not concerned with that possibility, Hill said. Loughry’s contract states that if the council intends to terminate his employment, the council must provide him a written notice of that intent at least 10 days before taking action, and must also allow him to appear at a hearing to defend himself. The council did not take any of those actions before voting to remove Loughry, Hill said earlier this week. Hill said those three council members had still not stated a reason for their vote, and he did not understand what the reason might be. This past spring, the council members gave Loughry a positive performance review, he said. Hill said he’d been contacted by several city residents confused about the vote to remove Loughry, as well. If Martley is appointed interim administrator, this will be his second stint in that role. He served as interim administrator for more than two months in 2009, after former administrator Carl Slaugh resigned and before Loughry was hired. He currently holds the title of assistant city administrator, in addition to being the police chief. Hill said after the meeting that Martley was the council’s first choice to take over temporarily, though he wanted to meet with him to offer him the job before the council formally appointed him. Read more at The Cheiftain. The vote came after some city officials said that Loughry was getting too much health insurance coverage and had overstated the income from his last job when he accepted the position in Basehor. Loughry said Thursday that he negotiated the health benefits and that the previous salary Basehor officials looked at didn’t take into account benefits or a raise he was anticipating in Hays. And Loughry said the City Council broke his contract by firing him without giving him 10 days notice that the issue was coming up for a vote. Mayor Terry Hill on Thursday defended Loughry, saying his service has been fine for two years. Mertz called it an issue of fairness. Basehor gives municipal employees full health coverage but doesn’t pay premiums for their family members. Loughry said he negotiated the benefit for his family and asked Hill to make a notation in his contract later when he noticed it wasn’t there. A previous city attorney told officials after the change that only the council could amend the contract. For Loughry and Hill, the question is: Why now? Mertz said the benefits and salary issues have been simmering for a while. He believes the surprise vote was legal, even though Loughry wasn’t warned. Read more at the Kansas City Star.

Friday Harbor, Washington (population 2,120): Of its many claims to fame, the fact that Friday Harbor is managed by an administrator whose longevity is unmatched in Washington state is not  — widely known. But those days are numbered. After 24 years at the helm of Friday Harbor, retirement beckons for town Administrator King Fitch, and those plans have been set in motion. Friday Harbor Mayor Carrie Lacher today announced that Fitch intends to hand over the helm of the town’s day-to-day operations by the end of June, 2012, and that he notified town employees of that decision earlier in the day. Lacher said Fitch informed each member of the town council with a personal telephone call. Fitch’s pending departure will present a tough challenge for the town in the months ahead, she said. Even though calling the shots for the town for nearly a quarter-century may be enough, Fitch said the decision to step down is painful just the same. That tenure began even before Fitch was selected town administrator by former mayor Jim Cahail. Fitch, who stepped into the administrator post on Sept. 8, 1987, had been working part-time for the town as a building inspector at that time. Lacher said the list of accomplishments that Fitch put in place over the years is long and significant, which include securing of water rights for the town’s future growth, facilitating implementation of the state Growth Management Act, merging the island’s fire departments and overseeing several major public works projects, including the recent replacement of the submarine sewer line. By town ordinance, the administrator is appointed by and serves at the will of the mayor. Fitch and Lacher are currently working on a strategy and timeline for the upcoming transition. As for the future, Fitch, who will turn 65 in early January, said that he looks forward to having more time to spend with family and with his four grandchildren in particular. And though he and his wife, Pam, have no intention of leaving the island, Fitch said he looks forward to that day when he can also walk down the streets of Friday Harbor without making a mental list of all potholes, catch basins or cracks in the sidewalk that he needs to attend to the following day. Read more at the San Juan Journal.

Hyde Park, Vermont (population 474): On Thursday, September 8, at their regularly scheduled meeting the Hyde Park Selectboard officially welcomed and introduced new Town Administrator Ron Rodjenski. The Hyde Park Selectboard began discussing the idea of hiring a town administrator several months ago and began the actual process soon after. At the September 8 meeting, the board also appointed Rodjenski as Hyde Park’s Zoning Administrator and Town Service Officer. As a part of those duties he will be working closely with the Development Review Board and Planning Commission. According to Rodjenski, he was interested in the Town Administrator position in Hyde Park for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it was available at a timely moment for him. When the position was advertised Ron had just begun looking for fulltime work again after taking a few years off to be a stay-at-home dad. Rodjenski has roughly 20 years of experience fulfilling the needs associated with all three of his positions due to the fact that he has held similar posts in the towns of Richmond and Underhill. He has a degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Central Connecticut State University, and he moved to Vermont following his graduation from that university in 1988. While he was officially welcomed by the board at their September 8 meeting, Ron actually started work on Tuesday, September 6. He has already attended three evening meetings, one each with the Planning Commission, Development Review Board, and Selectboard, while also meeting the town road crew and Town Office staff in order to familiarize himself with the town and what’s going on. Read more at the News & Citizen.