Transitions: Marshall County, AL; Sheboygan, MI; Kinston, NC and more

Marshall County, Alabama (population 93,019): Marshall County Administrator Nancy R. Wilson announced her impending retirement in a joint press release with the Marshall County Commission. And she intends to enjoy it. Wilson, an Albertville resident, is retiring Nov. 1 and will remain on administrative leave till the effective date. Attorneys for Wilson and the Commission had been working on a settlement to avoid litigation after Chairman James Hutcheson placed Wilson on administrative leave with pay and without explanation Sept. 1. Officials did not release details of the settlement or explain the reason for Wilson’s sudden and surprising departure. Commissioners plan to fill the position and requested an opinion from the Alabama Attorney General to determine the proper procedure for hiring a new county administrator. Commissioners are asking the AG for clarification on what legislative act they should use to hire the new administrator. Wilson served as county administrator for four years after being hired during former Chairman Douglas D. Fleming’s administration. She previously worked for the Dallas County Commission for seven years, for the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs for eight years and for the Alabama State Department of Education for nine years. Wilson plans to stay in Albertville for now and enjoy the time with her daughter. Read more at the Sand Mountain Reporter.

Sheboygan, Michigan (population 46,845): The Sheboygan Common Council, with the help of two tie-breaking votes by Mayor Bob Ryan, Monday night voted to create a city administrator’s position, effectively stripping Ryan of many of his duties, while rejecting the recommendations of one of its committees. Finance Director Jim Amodeo will be promoted to city administrator and current Deputy Finance Director Nancy Buss will be named city treasurer, effective next Monday. Last week, the city’s Salaries and Grievances Committee, in a pair of 3-to-1 votes, voted to promote Amodeo to interim administrator and that the positions of finance director and deputy finance director remain in the city’s table of organization, even though they wouldn’t be filled. But Monday night, two votes — one to remove the term “interim” and one that calls for Amodeo to fill the position through the length of his contract, which runs through August 2015 — ended in a 7-7 tie. Ryan voted yes for the amendments so that they each passed 8-7.

Ald. David Van Akkeren and Darryl Carlson argued that making the job interim and leaving the finance director in the table of organization would eventually create added expense cause instability in city government. Bohren and Versey argued that making it an interim position would allow the city to search for a better qualified administrator than Amodeo, who has no experience in public administration, and that removing him from office would be more difficult if he’s allowed to serve out his contract as city administrator.

Ald. Don Hammond said Amodeo has done a good job for the city and was part of a nationwide search that drew 30 applicants for the finance director position. Versey said, “We did a search for a finance director, not a city administrator.”

Under the plan passed Monday night, all department heads, including the fire and police chiefs, would report to the administrator on budgetary and other administrative issues, essentially stripping Ryan and future mayors of overseeing most of the city’s day-to-day operations. The administrator would report only to the Common Council president. The top three Common Council officers — president, vice president and Committee of the Whole chairman — but not the mayor, would evaluate the administrator.

The idea of a city administrator has been discussed for years, but the latest push came from the recent controversy concerning Ryan’s drinking binge in Elkhart Lake at the end of July and his subsequent refusal to resign or take a leave of absence to seek treatment. There also is support among some aldermen to make the mayor’s job part-time at a lower salary. Those changes could not occur until the start of the next mayoral term in April 2013. Some aldermen have said they support a public referendum on changing the mayor’s job description. Such a referendum would have to be put on February’s ballot to be in effect when the next term starts, City Attorney Steve McLean has said. Read more at the Sheboygan Press.

Kinston, North Carolina (population 20,048): Although many in the community wanted Kinston officials to look close to home when selecting a new city manager, local leaders looked to a small city more than 150 miles to the west to find their man. Tony Sears, 34, who is currently serving as Randleman’s city manager, was tapped as Kinston’s newest city manager Monday. The members of the City Council, after having met with Sears several times, voted unanimously to approve his contract. Sears is scheduled to start work Nov. 2. Before coming to Kinston, Sears spent nearly seven years as city manager of the town of Randleman. The town of about 3,600 people is nestled in Randolph County, part of the greater Greensboro area. Sears is married with two sons, ages 9 and 7. He graduated from Appalachian State University in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, with a concentration in town, city and county government. He also minored in community planning and history. Sears earned his Master’s of Public Administration from ASU in 2002. In addition to serving as Randleman’s city manager, Sears interned with the town of Troy in 2000 and Apex in 2001. He was town manager for Kenly in 2002 and 2003. Sears will take over the reins from Interim City Manager Bill Ellis, who has been at City Hall since July 1. Ellis will return to his post as director of the Kinston-Lenoir County Department of Parks and Recreation. Ellis stepped in as interim manager after former City Manager Scott Stevens announced this past spring that he would serve as Goldsboro’s city manager. Stevens had spent four years as city manager and had worked for the City of Kinston since the late 1990s. Read more at ENCToday.

Hyattsville, Maryland (population 15,570): After less than one year of service, Hyattsville City Administrator Gregory Rose has resigned, effective Oct. 7. After a three-hour closed session discussion, the City Council voted 7-4 to accept Rose’s resignation letter, which was dated Oct. 1. He will be paid until Jan. 18, the end of his contract, but his last day of work will be this Friday. Rose offered the council two options in his letter—either leave his post now or stay on board until his contract end date. The council, despite protest from several of its members, decided on option one. No reason was given for Rose’s departure, but over the past couple months the council has, during public meetings, repeatedly criticized Rose’s work. At Monday’s meeting, several council members, including Mayor Marc Tartaro, told Rose they were concerned about his lack of progress on hiring a human resources manager for the city. Rose said he was unclear on the council’s wishes, adding that it did not provide him clear direction. It is not yet clear who will serve as acting city administrator. Vincent Jones, former assistant city administrator, resigned his post last summer. In times past, Hyattsville Police Chief Douglas Holland has served as acting administrator while former administrator Elaine Murphy was on leave. Read more at the Hyattsville Patch.

Dickson, Tennessee (population 13,499): Through tear-filled eyes, city of Dickson mayor Don Weiss read a letter of resignation from City Administrator Tom Waychoff at Monday’s monthly city council meeting. Waychoff has been city administrator for 10 years and is fighting cancer. Weiss said he recieved the letter on Sept. 23. Waychoff’s last official day on the job is Friday.

Crookston, Minnesota (population 7,737): Two things are known for certain regarding the future of the City of Crookston administrator position: One, Aaron Parrish’s last day on the job is Nov. 11 and he’ll start his new administrator job in Forest Lake on Nov. 14. Second, City Clerk/Treasurer Betty Arvidson has been recommended to serve as interim administrator, a capacity she served in after Ray Ecklund retired and before Parrish was hired. Arvidson was a finalist for the permanent job when Parrish was hired in 2004, but has indicated she will not be a candidate this time around. But after that, city officials have to decide how they’re going to go about finding a successor to Parrish. The Administrative Committee this evening will likely decide whether or not the city should handle the recruitment of candidates on its own, or retain an outside firm to handle the process on the council’s behalf, which would involve announcing the position, researching the salary range, advertising, reviewing applications, selecting finalists, developing interview questions, facilitating the interview process, checking references and negotiating a contract. In a memo to the committee, Parrish states that the city has solicited proposals from two firms that have coordinated many administrator searches in cities across Minnesota. The committee will go over the proposals tonight. In addition, the committee is expected to formally designate Arvidson as interim city administrator. She is expected to receive a 15 percent bump in pay as interim administrator. Read more at the Crookston Times.

Camden, Maine (population 3,651): Outgoing Town Manager Roberta Smith has been showing the ropes to her replacement, Patricia Finnigan, this week. On Tuesday, Oct. 4, the pair met with Camden’s municipal department managers in the Tucker Room of the Camden Opera House. Both were expected to be present at a Select Board meeting that evening, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in the Washington Street Conference Room, and broadcast on Channel 22. Read more at the Herald Gazette.

East Spencer, North Carolina (population 1,369): The town of East Spencer hired a new administrator Monday, ending a search that took more than a year. After meeting in closed session, the Town Board of Aldermen unanimously approved the contract for Macon Sammons Jr., a former manager of Surry County. On Sept. 13, after the board interviewed Sammons for a second time, Mayor John Cowan said he is “highly qualified” for the position. Cowan said Sammons has been the manager of two counties in Virginia as well as Surry County, and he has more than 20 years of municipal management experience. Former Town Manager Donnie Jones left due to medical reasons in the spring of 2010. While East Spencer looked for someone to fill the position, town Clerk Anneissa Hyde served as interim town administrator. Read more at the Salisbury Post.

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Transitions

Bernalillo County, New Mexico (population 662,564): This afternoon, the County Commission will choose a new county manager from a list of four finalists. The finalists are Ed Adams, Chief Operating Officer, City of Albuquerque; Melinda Carlton, Oscar S. Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in Riverdale, MD, and interim county manager Tom Zdunek. Whoever is selected will be responsible for overseeing about 2,500 county employees. Read more at KOB News 4.

Jefferson County, Alabama (population 658,466): County Commission will interview Hoover Mayor Tony Petelos for the county manager’s job, Commission President David Carrington said today. Petelos, who is serving his second term of Alabama’s sixth largest city, is a former Alabama lawmaker who gained a reputation for bipartisan work as a legislator and statehouse official. The county commission tried unsuccessfully this spring to recruit candidates for the position but two finalists removed their name from consideration. State law set a June 1 deadline for a county manager to be in place but gave the commission an additional 120 days to look for candidates if none of the finalists gets a super majority of commission. Read more on AL.com.

Tucson, Arizona (population 520,116): City Manager Mike Letcher has resigned. Letcher notified city officials via email, saying his resignation will be effective in August 2012. Rumors that Letcher’s job was at risk have swirled at City Hall since two council members called for his termination over the recent publicity over major management problems at the city’s parking authority ParkWise. He also was criticized over the problematic implementation of the city’s new 911 system, which had been plagued with dropped calls and technical malfunctions as well as morale and staffing woes. Letcher has held the city’s top post since 2009. Letcher was hired after four council members voted to fire former City Manager Mike Hein two weeks earlier, after the council reviewed Hein in closed session. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.

Rancho Cucamonga, California (population 165,269): The former Bell city manager, who was once employed in Rancho Cucamonga, will receive drastically reduced pension benefits after the California Public Employees Retirement System slashed the payouts of top-paid officials. The move means Rancho Cucamonga’s share of Robert Rizzo’s pension is also significantly reduced.

Rizzo, along with seven other former Bell officials, faces corruption charges for conspiring to inflate each other’s salaries to astronomical figures. When news broke of the salary scandal last year, Rizzo was earning a salary of nearly $800,000 with a total compensation of nearly $1.5 million. At the time, estimates of his CalPERS benefits totaled $650,000 annually. But Rizzo is now set to receive almost $52,000 after the state retirement board reviewed his and other government officials’ pensions.

“We took a close look at the pay that he received in Bell and concluded that most of the pay would not qualify and would not be included in the calculation of his pension benefits,” said Edward Fong, spokesman for CalPERS. CalPERS decided just $7,100 of Rizzo’s monthly salary should be factored in the calculation of his benefits. Read more at theInland Valley Daily Bulletin.

Temecula, California (population 100,097): The City Council and Assistant City Manager Bob Johnson are close to wrapping up the negotiations on his city manager contract, which has been the subject of multiple closed-session meetings in recent weeks. Johnson will be sliding into the city manager’s chair on Jan. 1, 2012, when longtime City Manager Shawn Nelson retires at the end of the year. During the 2010 council election, Nelson’s contract, which paid him more than $285,000 annually, became campaign fodder by candidates seeking to unseat the three incumbents running for re-election. The incumbents, all three were re-elected, responded to that criticism by noting that the next city manager would make less than Nelson, who was uniformly praised for his stewardship of the city. Although city officials haven’t divulged information about the negotiations, a number lower than Nelson’s salary and higher than Johnson’s current pay would put Johnson’s eventual salary somewhere between $200,000 and $280,000. Johnson, 66, is making more than $190,000 in base salary and his compensation is much lower —- nearly $100,000 less per year than Nelson —- because his tenure with the city has been far shorter than Nelson’s 20-plus years.

The council’s negotiations with Johnson are being conducted in a political climate that has seen the salaries of city managers, administrators and elected officials come under fire statewide. In the city of Bell, the city manager was ousted after the disclosure of widespread financial chicanery. In Murrieta, inspired by the abuses in Bell, an ordinance was passed following a successful ballot initiative that seeks to cap the total compensation awarded to top city officials, including benefits and pension contributions, at 2 1/2 times the median household income. Read more at the North County Times.

Marshall County, Alabama (population 93,019): County Administrator Nancy Wilson was placed Thursday on administrative leave with pay, a step before she will be fired pending a request for a hearing on the matter, according to courthouse sources. Wilson, who started in August 2007, replaced the late Marshall County Commission Chairman Billy Cannon, who had been doubling as administrator since Pam Gilmore had retired the previous year. Gilmore held the job more than 30 years. A native of Albertville, Wilson was hired away from a similar position in Dallas County that she’d held since 2000. Prior to that, she worked for 17 years at the Department of Economic and Community Affairs. Read more at the Arab Tribune.

Yakima, Washington (population 91,196): The tenure of the city of Yakima’s first new city manager in 32 years begins today. Don Cooper, who will take his oath of office at tonight’s city council meeting, said he wants to spend first few weeks getting acquainted with city staffers and the community’s major players. But it won’t be too long before he dives into major projects, including hiring a new police chief, he said after this morning’s mayor’s briefing. Cooper, 61, said he hopes to hire a new chief by early December, but is now looking at a year end deadline as the position has not yet been advertised, something he wants to resolve soon. Cooper, who will earn $155,000 as city manager, arrived to Yakima late last week. He spent this past weekend driving around the different neighborhoods and was able to visit the Yakima Farmers Market Sunday. Read more at the Yakima Herald.

Sheboygan, Wisconsin (population 50,792): The Common Council has sought Mayor Bob Ryan’s removal since a three-day drinking binge in late July, requesting his resignation, then pursuing a forced removal when Ryan refused. Alderman Don Hammond and Cory Roeseler are introducing resolutions to halt the removal process and promote Finance Director James Amodeo to city manager. Amodeo — who is working his first government job and was hired in August 2010 — would handle the day-to-day operations of the city and report to Ryan and the Common Council. Read more from the Sheboygan Press.

Eastpointe, Michigan (population 34,077): Controversial former Sterling Heights city manager Steve Duchane is in line to become the next top administrator at Eastpointe City Hall. Duchane, a former police officer, was fired in Sterling Heights from a $123,000-a-year job after he admitted he lied about having earned bachelor’s degrees at the University of Michigan-Flint and Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, and that he played college football at Eastern Michigan University. In the days after his admission, other allegations of falsifications surfaced including statements made in depositions during a federal personal injury lawsuit. Read more from the Macomb Daily.