Transitions: Hernando County, FL; Bountiful, UT; South Pasadena, CA and more

Hernando County, Florida (population 172,778): David Hamilton’s tenure as Hernando County administrator ended Tuesday morning with a vote to terminate his contract. The 3-2 vote came after county commissioners heard from a lineup of residents who were as divided as the board in their opinion of the administrator. Commission Chairman Jim Adkins and commissioners Jeff Stabins and John Druzbick voted to terminate Hamilton’s contract immediately. Hamilton left the commission chambers immediately afterward without comment. The move caps several weeks of drama over Hamilton’s future after Druzbick asked him for his resignation two weeks ago. A day later, during the Oct. 25 commission meeting, Druzbick followed up with a motion to fire Hamilton, which was seconded by Stabins, a longtime critic of the administrator. Druzbick said at the time that he had lost faith in Hamilton over a variety of issues. The most recent was Hamilton’s recommendation to switch Susan Goebel from director of transportation services to director of environmental services and give her an $8,000 raise. He said Hamilton had misled the board when he was asked why administrative services director Cheryl Marsden had not signed off on the change. Hamilton called it an oversight. In reality, Marsden was opposed to the change. On top of news that Hamilton had applied for a job as Sarasota County administrator, Druzbick said he had reached his breaking point and was ready for Hamilton to go. But after Russell and Dukes spoke in support of the administrator, Hamilton convinced the board to allow him to draw up a transition plan and stay on until the end of the year to work on ongoing projects and provide guidance for the newest members of his leadership team. That all fell apart when Hamilton’s attorney wrote a letter to the county attorney’s office last week outlining his position in making the transition. He sought the full five months of severance and benefits package that he would get if he were fired, which would cost the county nearly $90,000. Stabins called for Hamilton to be fired immediately. Adkins sought to ask Hamilton to resign at a meeting he had set for Monday. But when Adkins got to Hamilton’s office Monday morning, he found Hamilton had taken the day off and that many of his personal belongings, including his model train and his fish tank, had been removed. Hamilton, 62, lasted longer in the job than either of his two predecessors, reaching three years and nearly eight months into his five-year contract. Read more at the St. Petersburg Times.

Bountiful, Utah (population 46,299): Tom Hardy, the veteran city manager of Bountiful who has guided the Davis County city for more than three decades, announced plans Monday to step down. According to a statement from Bountiful City Hall, Hardy has been called on a religious mission by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He will remain with the city until February. In a letter addressed to the mayor and city council, Hardy said he “appreciates more than words can express the opportunity to serve Bountiful City for the past 31 years.” Hardy received praise from the council in a Nov. 3 story in The Salt Lake Tribune for his handling of the city’s finances and budget. Colleagues also say Hardy was always available to the residents of Bountiful. Read more at The Salt Lake Tribune.

South Pasadena, California (population 25,619): Former assistant city manager Sergio Gonzales was appointed interim city manager of South Pasadena on November 5 replacing John Davidson who was appointed city manager of Irwindale. Gonzales served as Davidson’s assistant since December 2008. He will receive an annual salary of $143,000, a 10 percent increase from his former compensation along with benefits that he currently gets. The City Council can only appoint a permanent city manager after the elections. Council member Richard Schneider also prised [sic] the appointment of Gonzales whom he believed will contribute to the stability of the city and stay in the city for a while. The council has two options to fill the permanent position. One is to appoint someone using its own judgement or conduct a formal recruitment process. Once the firm recruits and narrows down candidates, the Council would interview the selected individuals. The Council would then give the City Attorney the authority to negotiate the terms and conditions for a formal contract. This process would take anywhere between 3 and 4 months. Some residents have raised their concerns on transparency regarding filing in the position of city manager. Others claimed that the City can save money by eliminating the position of assistant city manager. Gonzalez came to South Pasadena in 2003 as a part of the community services department. Read more at Pasadena Now.

Belmont, Massachusetts (population 24,729): A retired Brookline Town Administrator is stepping in as Belmont’s interim Town Administrator. Yesterday Belmont’s Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to appoint Richard Kelliher of West Roxbury as interim town administrator on Nov. 7. Kelliher, who has 40 years of local town government experience, will take over his part time position on Nov. 19. Kelliher brings a wealth of experience to the table, including acting as Brookline’s town administrator for 16 years. Kelliher is a faculty member at the Moakley Center for Public Management at Suffolk University and a staff associate at the Collins Center for Public Management at University of Massachusetts Boston. He has also worked as the associate director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association and the executive director of the Office of Public Service in Boston.  Before the Selectmen voted, Kelliher made a statement regarding his uncertainty of the position’s specific expectations, and he suggested he and the Selectmen discuss how he meets or falls short of their expectations in January. Selectman Angelo Firenze commented on Kelliher’s remark, explaining the relationship between the Selectmen and Kelliher works both ways. Chair Ralph Jones suggested Kelliher’s experience would prove very beneficial to the Selectmen. Kelliher said his first step in his new position will be to get to know the department heads and create a “climate of trust.” He views his position as a “continuum” of his experience with town government. Jones said the Selectmen and Assistant Town Administrator Kellie Hebert will work with Kelliher to help him focus on the structure of Belmont’s town government. Jones said the board and Kelliher may explore a charter or bylaw change to redefine the town administrator role to better suit the needs of the community. Jones hopes to present a restructured town administrator—or perhaps town manager—position at the April town meeting. Because Kelliher’s position is part time, he will have specific areas of focus, Jones said. Selectman Mark Paolillo said he viewed Kelliher as one of the best town administrators in the state. Kelliher will earn $70 per hour. Read more at Wicked Local Brookline.

Salem, Illinois (population 7,485): Salem City Manager Thomas Christie has taken a settlement offer from the city council and will resign on November 30th.  In addition to the three months severance pay included in his contract, Christie will receive an additional three months of pay for agreeing to release all claims against the city. After the council accepted the agreement without debate, City Attorney Mike Jones outlined the terms.   “He will withdraw his pending claim with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and release all claims under federal and state law he may have against the city.  In exchange, the city has agreed to pay the city manager a severance package consisting of his salary and benefits through May 31st, 2012,” said Jones. Christie will also be paid for half of his accumulated sick leave, amounting to about another month of salary.  Like other city employees, he’ll also be paid for unused vacation time.  As a result of those payments, Christie will continue to receive a pay check from the city through September first.  Christie estimated the value of the settlement above the terms of termination provided in his contract at about $30,000. Christie says the previously undisclosed EEO complaint is a retaliation claim.  He indicated the claim came in the aftermath of an EEO complaint filed by Economic Development Director Tracey McDaneld that is still pending. Christie confirms he has applied for other jobs as city manager, but says he hasn’t decided if he will pursue that avenue or retire.  As part of the agreement, both sides agreed not to make disparaging remarks against the other. Raymer says after the council decided they wanted to make a change in the city manager’s position more than a month ago, the attorneys worked out the details of the actual agreement. Read more at WJBD.

Lake Alfred, Florida (population 5,015): City Manager Larry Harbuck is retiring. He announced at Monday night’s City Commission meeting he will retire in January after serving the city for 15 years. Harbuck, who turned 62 on July 13, said he and his wife, Debbie, were frugal for many years so he could make his dream come true. Now, they can enjoy time at their place in Floral City and do some traveling. He said they are also planning to spend more time with their son and granddaughter. He started his career with the city as public works director and served as interim city manager in 2009, eventually being named officially to the job later that year. He is paid $78,790 a year. He said he thought his biggest accomplishment as city manager was to enable the city’s department heads to step up, make suggestions and better the operations of the city. Several of his directors agreed. City Clerk Linda Bourgeios said he had helped the city employees prosper. Amber Deaton, the city’s finance director, said Harbuck was a wonderful boss and taught her to be more effective by teaching her to be more compassionate and understanding. Harbuck is a Vietnam Army veteran who served one tour in Vietnam and two years in Germany. He used the GI bill to get an associate’s degree in business from Lakeland Business and Fashion Institute. Having worked for 16 years for the City of Auburndale, mainly in building and zoning, then code enforcement, he helped found the Polk County Association of Code Enforcement. As part of that organization, he and others developed a curriculum so all code enforcement officers can now become certified through attending the Polk State College. He left Auburndale in 1996, coming to Lake Alfred as its public works director which, he said, was really his forte. While Harbuck is looking toward a new chapter in his life, he said he hoped the city will concentrate on community development in general and downtown redevelopment over the next two years. City Commissioner Jack Dearmin, who worked with Harbuck as public works director, said Harbuck was not a micromanager and said he felt city staff is able to work well together to benefit the city. Read more at the News Chief.

Florence, Colorado (population 3,622): On Monday, Florence Mayor Paul Villagrana announced City Clerk Dori Williams will serve as the interim city manager until the council replaces Lew Quigley, who retired last week. The council set an executive session to discuss the nomination of a new city manager at the end of the meeting. Read more at the Canon City Daily Record.

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