Transitions: Boynton Beach, FL; Littleton, CO; Sandusky, OH and more

Boynton Beach, Florida (population 64,281): Commissioners this week came ever-so-close to removing the “interim” from city manager Lori LaVerriere’s title. Marlene Ross and Woodrow Hay and Vice Mayor Bill Orlove voted yes. It required four. Commissioner Steven Holzman and Mayor José Rodrigez said the city should do a search, which could well come back to LaVerriere anyway. LaVerriere, who had been assistant manager since 2008, took over in June when Kurt Bressner stepped down after 11 years.

In August, City commissioners voted unanimously to bump LaVerriere’s pay from $104,828 to $140,000. Bressner had earned $168,299.

Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday for human resources director Julie Oldbury to start a search. She said it would take about three months and suggested that competency tests for 10 finalists would run about $6,500. Oldbury also said Fort Lauderdale, at Boynton Beach’s request, sent résumés from a dozen finalists for manager and she would invite those people to apply. And although the position hasn’t been advertised, about a half dozen people have inquired about it or the assistant manager’s post. Orlove said layoffs and budget cuts have left the department with low morale and he worried about continuity, not to mention the time needed for a new person to learn the job. But Rodriguez and Holzman said even if the search came back to LaVerriere, it might uncover new ideas for how to run the city. Read more at The Palm Beach Post News.

Littleton, Colorado (population 41,737): The Littleton City Council welcomed new faces to two of the city’s most integral positions during its regular meeting Oct. 4. City Manager Michael Penny was wrapping up his second day on the job with his first city council meeting. A reception was held in his honor prior to the session to officially celebrate his arrival in Littleton. He’s taking over for former City Manager Jim Woods, who retired Sept. 30 after nearly three decades with the city. Penny is a Boulder native who spent the last seven years as town manager of Frisco, a mountain town in proximity to Breckenridge, Dillon and Silverthorne. Council also appointed Assistant City Attorney Kirsten Crawford as the acting city attorney after Suzanne Staiert was fired in September. Read more at the Littleton Independent.

Sandusky, Ohio (population 25,688): A North Carolina woman will serve as Sandusky’s next City Manager. Last night, the city commissioners chose Nicole Ard to lead Sandusky. Contract negotiations will begin next week, and she’s expected to take over in mid-November. The commissioners believe she’s the first woman, and first African-American to serve as Sandusky City Manager. Ard most recently served as assistant town manager in Hillsborough, North Carolina. Read more at North Coast Now.

Los Alamos County, New Mexico (population 17,950): The Los Alamos County Council voted last night to appoint Arthur “Harry” Burgess as the new County Administrator, effective November 6. Burgess is currently the City Administrator in the City of Carlsbad, NM and was selected after an extensive public input process this summer, followed by interviews two weeks ago with the top four candidates for this top executive position at the County. The search for a new County Administrator had been underway since February when the Council hired Prothman Company, a national executive recruitment firm, to assist in the hiring process. Prothman hosted two public listening sessions in June to gather feedback about the characteristics and qualities that citizens desired to see in the next County Administrator. Working with a subcommittee of Councilors, a job description was developed and approved by the entire Council. After posting the job announcement nation-wide this summer, over 50 qualified individuals responded. The list of applicants was narrowed to the top 12 individuals last month, and in the last two weeks, it was narrowed again to the top four candidates. They traveled to Los Alamos for a public reception in Fuller Lodge on September 22nd, coupled with an entire day of interviews on September 23rd with the Council, senior management team and a panel representing residents of White Rock and Los Alamos, the local business community, the School District and the County’s largest employer, LANL.  Councilors cited Burgess’ six years of municipal government experience in Carlsbad as a big factor in their decision to offer him the top job at the County. Burgess has successfully implemented several economic development projects that have propelled Carlsbad forward since he was appointed to the position in 2005. He also has experience working with DOE officials because of the location of the nearby Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), another plus, given the strong presence of the DOE in Los Alamos and its operation of LANL. Read more on the Los Alamos County Web site.

Cocoa, Florida (population 17,140): Retiring City Manager Ric Holt will receive nearly $64,000 in paid leave and severance pay from Cocoa as part of an agreement approved by the city council. Holt is retiring to deal with a family medical issue. Under a plan unanimously approved by the council, Holt, who has been the city manager since 2000, will retire at the end of April, but will get the equivalent of six months’ worth of pay in the interim while he is on leave. The city also will pay him more than $73,000 for unused vacation and sick days. His last day was Sept. 30. Holt had been planning to continue working as city manager until April, but instead is leaving the job now to help his mother, who has a serious medical issue, he told the city council. Holt’s salary was $127,546 a year. Holt began working for Cocoa as finance director in 1991.

Vickie Pacilio, manager of Cocoa’s Office of Management and Budget, said the city is continuing a staff wage freeze for the second straight year, has a hiring freeze in place and asked its department directors to voluntarily cut back on their departmental budgets. Cocoa currently employs 418 active employees down 35 from a year ago, she said.

Under the plan for the city manager’s position the council approved, Holt was put on paid administrative leave for the time being. The council also named Deputy City Manager Brenda Fettrow as the next city manager, pending the conclusion of two sets of negotiations between City Attorney Anthony Garganese and Holt and between Garganese and Fettrow. On Monday, Fettrow officially became acting city manager. Garganese said it is possible that Holt will act as a consultant during the transition period from now until his retirement, but Holt no longer will run the city on a day-to-day basis.

A city-prepared payroll analysis of the proposal indicates that Holt will be paid:

  • $63,773 for six months of pay, in a combination of paid administrative leave and severance.
  • $51,447 for 839 hours of unused vacation pay.
  • $21,734 to $24,186 for 354 to 394 hours of unused sick leave.

After taxes are taken out, his net pay during that time period will be $104,557 to $107,198. When the city’s costs for taxes, workers’ compensation and insurance are included, Cocoa’s total cost will be $161,845 to $173,183. Read more at Florida Today.

Shorewood, Illinois (population 13,452): Shorewood has pried loose the city manager from small town Princeton, IL. Princeton City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh was offered the Shorewood village administrator job, Mayor Rick Chapman revealed on Thursday, and likely will get it during Tuesday night’s board meeting. Fiegenschuh has held down the city administrator job in Princeton for about five years, Chapman said. Fiegenschuh is leaving a town of about 7,500 in Bureau County to replace former village Administrator Kurt Carroll. Carroll resigned in April to go work for New Lenox at a heft pay raise. Carroll is reportedly getting paid $153,000. Feigenschuh’s contract calls for him to be paid $112,000, Chapman said. Feigenschuh is set to start working Nov. 14, pending the approval of the village board, Chapman said, but will be attending meeting in the meantime to get up to speed with the business of Shorewood. Village leaders retained the Deerfield firm Vorhees Associates LLC to conduct a nationwide search for Carroll’s replacement. Vorhees came up with a pool of 100 applicants. Those 100 were winnowed down to six who were interviewed by the village board in recent weeks.

A native of Nebraska, Feigenschuh graduated from Wayne State College and earned his master’s degree from the University of Nebraska. Feigenschuh said he is familiar with Shorewood after having traveled through it numerous times on his way to Chicago. Read more at Shorewood Patch.

Lake Forest Park, Washington (population 13,407): Lake Forest Park City Administrator David Cline submitted his resignation to Mayor Dave Hutchinson effective October 14, 2011 and will take the position of city administrator with the City of Tukwila. Cline, who lives in Redmond, became city adminstrator of LFP  in May 2007, after serving as the Interim/Assistant City Manager in Burien.

Cline’s tenure was marked by the worst recession in the U.S. since the Great Depression and limits on government to raise property taxes. At the direction of the mayor and council, the city budget has been cut by $2 million over the last four years and staff has been reduced by 15 percent, Cline said. By law, the city has to have a balanced budget. In August 2010, voters defeated a property tax levy lid lift for city services by a 78 to 22 percent margin. Cuts were made again, but some residents want to vote out the incumbents who agreed to put the the levy to voters in 2010.

Cline, who holds a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Stanford and has taught English in Indonesia and lived in Bolivia, will manage a 300-plus staff in Tukwila. He’ll also receive about a 15 percent increase in pay. Read more at the Shoreline Patch.

Red Bank, Tennessee (population 11,651): The Red Bank City Commission abruptly voted 3-2 on Tuesday night to fire City Manager Chris Dorsey. Commissioner Roberts made the motion at the end of the meeting when it appeared the session was going to be adjourned after a brief meeting. Mr. Dorsey, who has served for six years, said, “I was blindsided.”

The panel had trouble finding an interim city manager. Mayor Millard nominated Mark Mathews, the fire chief. But he declined, saying he was not qualified. He said a person with a financial background was needed. Commissioner Jeno recommended that either Ruthie Rohen, city recorder, or John Alexander, finance director, take it. Both demurred. After a citizen went to the podium and said it was a shame that none of the staff would step forward, Mr. Alexander said he would take it. Mr. Dorsey, who was recruited from Memphis, had been in the post for six years. He operated the first four years without a contract. Read more in The Chatanoogan.

Gautier, Mississippi (population 11,280): Interim City Manager Robert Ramsay said he has started the process of advertising for applicants to fill the city manager’s job. On Tuesday, the mayor and council voted 4-3 to terminate Sidney Runnels as city manager, effective immediately. Mayor Tommy Fortenberry said the advertising will be done statewide. Fortenberry said he doesn’t know how long the process will take. Ramsay, who is also city attorney, has served twice before as an interim city manager. Fortenberry said the details of the hiring process have not been made. Fortenberry said the interviews would be with the interim city manager, the council and himself. The mayor said the top candidates may be brought in for public sessions. Fortenberry said he didn’t know the pay range for the city manager, but Runnels had been paid $78,000 a year. Runnels has requested a public hearing on his termination, and that was set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Ramsay said the public hearing is required if the terminated city manager requests it. Runnels was unavailable for comment Wednesday but did say earlier that he was scheduled to have a heart catheterization procedure Friday. Runnels had served as city manager since 2008. Previously he had been city manager at Grenada, economic development director for West Memphis, Ark., and mayor of Canton. Read more at GulfLive.com.

Jerome, Idaho (population 8,952): Ben Marchant is no longer Jerome’s city administrator. Marchant, the city’s administrator since 2008, gave his resignation to the Jerome City Council during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday. The resignation, accepted by the council, was effective the following day. Mayor John Shine declined to comment on whether the council wanted the resignation, calling it a personnel matter. Still, Marchant’s resignation came without any apparent advance notice. Marchant said the decision was his, but declined to elaborate on what led to his departure. Marchant said he didn’t have another job lined up when he left. Before the closed-door meeting, the council received a request from Marchant that indicated he didn’t have any immediate plans to resign. Marchant had sought council approval for an estimated $3,200 so he could attend a four-day professional leadership program hosted by the International City/County Management Association in Washington, D.C. Marchant was accepted into the program after applying for it with a letter of support from the mayor. The council rejected Marchant’s request with a 2-1 vote before going into closed session, with only Councilwoman Dawn Soto supporting it. Shine said he will fill in and do the administrator’s duties until a replacement is hired. He said the council still needs to plan that hiring process. Marchant said he’s enjoyed his time working in Jerome. His career started as an intern in the city of San Diego’s mayor office. He later worked in Hoffman Estates, a Chicago suburb. He was working in Maryland Heights, a city near St. Louis., Mo., when Jerome hired him. Read more at the Magic Valley Times-News.

Freeport, Maine (population 8,357): Dale Olmstead plans to retire in April from the town manager position he’s held for 30 years. The Town Council discussed plans to replace Olmstead during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday. The council will meet privately with executive “headhunters” later this month and map out a search process by mid-November. The search likely will include input from community members and will require the council to revise the town manager’s job description, which hasn’t changed since the town charter was updated in 1976. Councilors indicated that they would like to have Olmstead’s replacement on the job about a month before he leaves to promote a seamless transition. After his retirement, Olmstead and his wife, Barbara, who recently retired from a longtime admnistrative position at Bowdoin College, plan to split their time between Maine and her native Texas, where she has family. Read more at The Portland Press Herald.

Valley City, North Dakota (population 6,585): City Administrator Jon Cameron and his supporters won a bruising fight Tuesday as voters agreed to keep his job as part of city government. On Wednesday, he announced that he was resigning that post, effective Nov. 11. Cameron said he is taking a job as a city manager in the southern part of the U.S., but he declined to name the city, saying it was up to that municipality to make the decision public. Cameron said he made the decision in tandem with his wife, Joan.

Cameron said smear tactics and character assassination used by those trying to end the city administrator job were unsavory and turned philosophical arguments over good government into personal arguments and vendettas. He said the election made it clear local voters rejected those tactics. But Cameron said the contentious fighting with former Police Chief Dean Ross for much of this year also devolved into personal attacks. Cameron said he thought it was important for city government to have a clean break with those recent fights.

City Commissioner Jon Wagar said he was surprised by Cameron’s decision to resign. Wagar said after Cameron recently removed himself from contention for the Sturgis, S.D., city administrator post, and Tuesday’s election win, he expected Valley City would have Cameron’s leadership through his retirement. But he said Cameron was convinced he had become the face of the city’s recent controversies. He said no timetable has been set for hiring Cameron’s replacement. Read more at the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.

Indian Wells, California (population 4,958): Embattled City Manager Greg Johnson abruptly resigned Thursday after a more than three-hour, closed-door session of the City Council. Johnson took no questions after the announcement and left City Hall immediately following a brief meeting with council members. His resignation is effective Nov. 4. It is unclear whether Johnson, who earns $254,625 annually and has been with the city for 15 years, will remain at the helm in the ensuing weeks. Hours before the regularly scheduled City Council meeting, Johnson schmoozed with residents, shaking hands and smiling. He has been scrutinized for calling and emailing the CEO of First Foundation Inc. after one of the bank’s employees, an Indian Wells resident, raised questions about council perks and compensation in a public meeting. Haddon Libby, former senior vice president and director of the bank’s desert region, was later fired. Bank officials have declined to comment on Libby’s dismissal, calling it a personnel matter. Johnson previously has defended his actions, saying that seeking an apology through a supervisor was “not unusual in the corporate world.”

It was standing-room-only inside the council’s chamber at Indian Wells City Hall as more than 100 residents came to watch the matter unfold. Two patrol officers, an unusual site [sic] for a regular meeting, were stationed outside. At the start of the meeting, Johnson apologized to the City Council, staff and residents but did not mention Libby by name. Documents obtained by The Desert Sun show Johnson sent increasingly aggressive emails to Scott F. Kavanaugh, Libby’s boss and the CEO of First Foundation Inc., after Libby sent a written public information request to the city specifically seeking Johnson’s compensation and pension benefits. About a half a dozen residents, including the banker’s wife, spoke before council members adjourned for a closed session to discuss Johnson’s behavior. Thursday’s meeting was punctuated with outbursts, jeers and claps from residents, who hammered the council on a free car wash issue that Libby had previously questioned. Jacqueline Bradley took elected officials to task, asking each whether he or she had received car washes. The sticking point for many wasn’t the car washes themselves, but council member’s refusal to talk about the perk. “Many of us feel that your reputation is permanently tarnished,” Bradley said. Then she added: “I hope that I’m not going to have retribution for myself personally for having the courage to address this.” The room erupted into applause.

Most residents implored the council to do something to rein in what they described as Johnson’s out-of- control behavior. Some blamed Johnson. Others the City Council.

Libby’s wife, Julia, stepped up to the podium with one question: “What is the motive?” The council sat silent. “That is a question,” Julia Libby, 52, said.

Mayor Patrick Mullany broke the silence saying he did not know or have any ill will toward her husband. “Whatever hurt it has caused you and your family we’re very sensitive to,” Mullany said, noting that his son is also searching for a job. “I apologize to your family.”

Julia Libby responded: “Why did it take you so long to feel sorry? You allowed this to happen. I’m sure (Johnson) didn’t do this by himself.”

Mullany ended the back-and-forth with: “I’m not going to take a grilling.”

Julia Libby, who has breast cancer, said she is going into the hospital today. Haddon Libby has retained an attorney and will continue his job hunt out of the area. Read more at MyDesert.com.

Update: Indian Wells has reportedly appointed Mel Windsor to the post of interim city manager. Windsor has been the director of personnel and public safety. Indian Wells City Attorney Stephen Deitsch declined to give details about the compensation package Johnson will receive upon his resignation, which is effective Nov. 4. Read more at KPSP Local 2.

Wayland, Michigan (population 4,045): Wayland city officials may have more to say later Friday about the firing of city manager Chris Yonker. The city council let him go after his annual performance review, although a number of local residents reportedly spoke on his behalf. A prepared statement gives no reason for the firing. The Wayland City Council has not yet appointed an interim manager. Read at WoodTV8.

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Augusta–Richmond County, Georgia (population 195,844): City Administrator Fred Russell and city bean counters are beginning work on next year’s budget, holding hearings with department heads, but there is some unfinished business in this year’s budget…the 40 or some raises he approved, and now an internal audit report is finding problems with some of those raises. The report found that, in some cases, Russell far exceeded his authority to grant raises up to 15 percent. Meanwhile, the raises have prompted Commissioners Alvin Mason and Bill Lockett to call for across-the-board raises for all employees, a three percent increase would cost about $3 million…and almost $5 million for a five percent raise. Also on the agenda, Commissioner Alvin Mason is renewing his call to terminate Fred Russell. Read more at WJBF.com.

De Soto County, Mississippi (population 161,252): With little debate, the DeSoto Board of Supervisors on Tuesday in a 3-2 vote approved a lean $114 million county budget with no raises for county workers. “We’re happy about a budget that doesn’t increase the tax burden on the citizens,” County Administrator Michael Garriga said of the blueprint for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. “It also maintains services at the current level.” The budget forecasts total expenditures of $114,163,950, just $1,092,286 or less than 1 percent more than fiscal 2011’s $113,071,664. Total anticipated revenues are $78,409,508, with beginning cash at $64,669,000. Total ending cash would be $28,914,558. Read more at The Commercial Appeal.

Cape Coral, Florida (population 154,305): An 8 percent pay cut for police and firefighters could cover most of the $4 million gap between spending and income in the next city budget, City Manager Gary King said this morning during a Cape Coral City Council budget workshop. The city and the two unions are deadlocked in their negotiations over pay. An impasse has been declared. Mayor John Sullivan also was cautioned about how he proceeds with his intent to use his line item veto on the police and fire department budgets by the city attorney. Read more on News-Press.com.

Columbia, Missouri (population 108,500): City Manager Mike Matthes reccommended a pay raise for city employees Monday night as part of his proposed budget for fiscal year 2012. The city council discussed this along with the 1.3 percent budget cuts in the proposal. Matthes suggests a 25 cent an hour raise for city workers, who haven’t gotten a raise in two years. Matthes said the pay raise is to support higher performance among employees. The council must cut $2.3 million of its budget. It is also considering increasing service rates and making cuts to the bus system. During the public hearing, local residents spoke out mostly against the rate hikes and changes to transit. Council members said they would take their opinions into consideration as they continue discussing the cuts. Matthes said checks will start to bounce in July if no changes are made. Read more on KOMU.com.

Manteca, California (population 67,096): Assistant City Manager Karen McLaughlin will earn $144,690 in pay prior to taxes when she becomes City Manager. That is some $20,000 less than her predecessor was making. The contracts for both reflect higher rates of pay but that was before compensation reductions of 23.4 percent are factored into the equation. The compensation reductions are part of a citywide across-the-board cut in pay to balance the city budget and to eliminate the structured deficit. Read more at the Manteca Bulletin.

Louisville, Colorado (population 18,376): The City Council gave City Manager Malcolm Fleming a 3.9 percent raise Tuesday night, bumping his annual pay from $153,088 to $159,016. Fleming, who started with the city four years ago at a salary of $145,000, remains the third highest-paid municipal manager in Boulder County. Fleming, who declined a pay raise last year, will continue to receive a $525 monthly car allowance. Read more at the Daily Camera.

Lake Wales, Florida (population 13,076): All the city’s 178 city employees kept their jobs, which is what commissioners wanted. However, there is no cost-of-living adjustment this year and the city cut payroll costs by 3 percent — $247,442 — by requiring city employees to take 10 unpaid days off. Lake Wales hasn’t had an assistant city manager position for at least two years. All those duties are done by the city manager and department heads. Several departments shifted and traded job duties to cut vacant positions. Read more at NewsChief.com.

Mulberry, Florida (population 3,933): City commissioners gave Mulberry City Manager Frank Satchel Jr. an 11 percent raise Tuesday night, totaling $7,000 annually. The proposed city budget has 2.5 percent average raises for the city’s rank-and-file workers. Commissioners considered a formal evaluation for Satchel, but decided it wasn’t necessary. Satchel told commissioners he didn’t think he needed a formal evaluation. Satchel was appointed city manager two years ago after a succession of managers left amid controversy. He had been a city commissioner for 18 years in the past and had spent his career in the Polk County school system. Satchel also receives a monthly car allowance totaling $400. The proposed 2011-12 budget, which commissioners will consider at a meeting next week, includes about $20,000 collectively for the city’s employees, said Finance Director Blake Rane. That will allow for some of the city’s estimated 40 employees to receive merit raises ranging from 2 percent to 3 percent. Commissioners said Tuesday they weren’t concerned about finding $7,000 in the budget to boost Satchel’s salary. Scrocca said Satchel, who holds a doctorate in public administration, is worth more than the city is paying him, and Mulberry should be grateful he’s willing to work for what the city can pay. Read more on TheLedger.com.