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.

Transitions: Glendale, CA; Rockingham County, NC; Oviedo, FL and more

Glendale, California (population 205,952): Monrovia City Manager Scott Ochoa has been appointed to the same position with the city of Glendale, the city announced Tuesday. Ochoa takes over for current Glendale City Manager Jim Starbird, a former Monrovia city manager himself who is stepping down at the end of the year. Ochoa will officially take over the job on Jan. 3, 2012, according to a Glendale city spokesman. Ochoa said in an interview Tuesday night that his departure will be “bittersweet.” Ochoa started as an intern in Monrovia in 1993, working his way up the ladder until he was appointed to the city manager position in 2004. A graduate of Claremont McKenna College, Ochoa obtained a master’s degree in public administration from USC while working for Monrovia. Glendale Mayor Laura Friedman said in a prepared statement that Ochoa was selected because of his impressive “credentials, his values, his track record and multi-dimensional understanding of local government and municipal operations.” In terms of population, Ochoa’s leap from Monrovia to Glendale is enormous. Glendale is more than five times the size of Monrovia. Ochoa will also take charge of a much larger city work force. About 1,800 employees work for Glendale, compared to approximately 300 in Monrovia. Ochoa said his experience would translate, however, because the city faces many of the same challenges–economic development, declining revenue–that he’s faced here. Ochoa’s salary is still being negotiated, according to the Glendale News-Press. Ochoa currently makes about $182,000 per year in Monrovia, not including benefits and bonuses. Starbird makes about $240,000 annually, the News-Press reports. Ochoa said he was approached by a Glendale executive recruiter in September and has been going through the application process since. He tendered his resignation at the Monrovia City Council meeting Tuesday and will stay on as city manager until Jan. 2, 2012, he said. Ochoa said he plans on moving to Glendale as soon as the real estate market allows. He lives in Monrovia with his wife Sophia Ochoa and their children Nicolas, 14, and Tessia, 10. Read more at the Montrose Patch.

Rockingham County, North Carolina (population 93,643): There is a new man in charge in one Triad County and he may be a familiar face to some. Tuesday, the Rockingham County Board of Commissioners appointed Lance L. Metzler as new county manager, who is currently the county manager in Montgomery County. Metzler’s qualifications to serve as the chief executive officer of Rockingham County Government include many years of professional experiences, visionary leadership, and governmental innovations. In a news release the county said Metzler will begin work December 5. Since 2005, as county manager for the County of Montgomery, some of his top accomplishments are the following: the first Strategic Plan for the County; the first official Capital Improvement Plan; a team approach for operations and long-term planning; and a pro-active approach to growth and customer service in a diverse community. He served as county administrator/manager for the County of Northampton, VA, between 2000 and 2005. Some of the milestone accomplishments included: first Sustainable Technology Industrial Park in the nation; a new County facility to house County services; collaborative efforts for regionalism to address housing, water and sewer needs; aggressive Land Use Plans; and Distinguished Budget Awards. As town manager for the Town of West Point, VA, from 1997 to 2000, his accomplishments included hiring and developing qualified department heads with teamwork philosophy; an industrial park; a Farmer’s Market; a Bikeway and Scenic Vista; a historical walking tour; a police department; an Emergency Operation Program; and Wastewater Treatment and Airport service development through regional efforts. Metzler also worked for the Town of Kingstree, SC, and the Town of Troy, NC. He has been featured in numerous governmental magazines, publications, and productions; is a credentialed International City/County Manager’s Association (ICMA) Manager; and is actively involved with city/county governmental associations. In addition, he was charter president of the West Point Rotary Club, a member of Seven Lakes Baptist Church, and a Pi Kappa Phi Alumni. Metzler has an undergraduate degree in Urban/Regional Planning at East Carolina University and is currently completing a master’s in Public Administration from Old Dominion University. He has done graduate work at Virginia Tech along with UNC-Chapel Hill’s Public Executive Leadership Academy (PELA), and the University of Virginia’s Senior Executive Institute (SEI). Read more at WFMY News 2.

Oviedo, Florida (population 33,342): After an extensive internal search, city officials have made a decision in appointing a new city manager. At a special meeting on Oct. 20, the Oviedo City Council voted unanimously to offer the city manager position to Kathryn Breazeale. Breazeale is a familiar face to the city, as she has been the active budget officer since December of 2010. Breazeale has previously served in several positions that qualify her for the responsibilities that come with a position such as city manager. Serving as the director of administrative services for the city of Wilmington, North Carolina, Breazeale will enter this position with a vast knowledge of city affairs. With a master’s degree in public administration, more than eight years of progressively responsible local government experience and four years in the private industry as a CFO, the city council’s decision was made based on merit and experience. Additionally, the city is also still in pursuit of a financial director. The position is open and all qualified candidates are urged to apply. The finance director is part of the city manager’s senior management team that performs a variety of professional, supervisory and technical accounting and finance work, according to city documents announcing the position. The guidelines express that an ideal candidate will possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college in accounting or business administration and also have at least five years of experience in finance administration and government fund accounting. The city is also looking for someone who has been in a similar position before, serving as either a director or assistant director in a larger organization. Pay for this kind of position ranges between $90,000 to $100,000 in annual salary, according to the release. Read more at the Seminole Chronicle.

Belmont, Massachusetts (population 24,729): Belmont’s Board of Selectmen announced Monday night that Town Administrator Thomas Younger has tendered his resignation, effective Nov. 18, after serving in the job since 2005. It was an amicable split, said Selectman Ralph Jones, the board’s chairman, and had been planned for a while. Jones said the selectmen held off announcing Younger’s departure because he was a finalist for town manager spots in Winchester and North Andover. He was not selected for either position. In a statement, the selectmen thanked Younger and wished him well. Jones said that the selectmen are looking for an interim town administrator, whom they hope to have in place by the end of the month. They have already begun contacting possible candidates, though Jones declined to name them. Read more at the Boston Globe.

Elk River, Minnesota (population 22,974): The city’s new administrator is running things for the first time — after apprenticeships spanning two decades in other Minnesota communities. Others might have seen a city with a high tax rate and a decrease in property values. But Elk River’s new city administrator sees “a jewel.” Elk River is the Sherburne County seat and the second-largest city (after St. Cloud) in what has been Minnesota’s fastest-growing county for much of the past decade. It is a city of possibilities — from its quaint Main Street and cozy downtown district to the superstores that straddle Hwy. 169. It is the one community within a rural county that has access to several major arteries, with Minneapolis just 30 miles away. For Portner, it’s a dream job. Of course, this is a guy who, years ago, savored spending a day in a small western Minnesota city, observing as officials talked about trying to develop around a post office. He grew up in New Ulm unsure where his future would take him. But he was always observant — even of things others took for granted. New Ulm was a city that took care of itself, he recalled. The yards were manicured, the streets clean. He went to the University of Minnesota and landed an internship with then-U.S. Rep. Jim Ramstad. Portner had considered a teaching career. Then he began meeting police chiefs, school superintendents and city officials. After earning a master’s degree at Hamline University, Portner learned in 1991 that Brooklyn Park was looking for an assistant to its city manager. He spent six years working in what was then Minnesota’s fifth-largest city. He later moved to Plymouth, another large suburb, and served as the city’s administrative services director. He felt fulfilled in Plymouth but jumped at the chance to go to Elk River. The city initially offered the job to Kevin Lahner, city administrator in Burlington, Wis. When Lahner declined, Elk River chose Portner to succeed Lori Johnson, who resigned and is now city administrator in Otsego. There were 71 applicants for the job that Portner ultimately got. He and his wife, Penny, a Forest Lake teacher, live in Andover, a location that creates a 20-mile commute for each of them. They have two daughters and a son. In spite of a 45.7 percent tax rate and a 5.6 percent decrease in property values, Elk River has tremendous potential, he said. With the levy, there’s an additional 3 percent tax increase, he said. But the positives far outweigh the economic climate. Read more at the Star Tribune.

Leland, North Carolina (population 13,527): Leland’s new town manager, David A. Hollis, begins work at his new post on Tuesday. He succeeds William B. Farris, who will retire December 16 after more than 30 years of municipal work experience, five of which he served as Leland town manager. Hollis is a licensed engineer, who previously worked for North Carolina engineering firm, W.K. Dickson and Company. He also has served as chief project engineer for New Hanover County and as the superintendent-plant manager for Brunswick County’s Water Resources department. The Leland resident was the chairman of the town’s planning board and a member of the Leland Code Rewrite Committee, which has led revisions of the town’s ordinances. He was appointed to both groups in 2008, but resigned when he accepted the position as town manager, said Carol Ann Floyd, Leland town clerk. The town received 34 applications for the town manager position. The town council and Mayor Walter Futch led the hiring process. Hollis will receive an annual salary of $95,000 and will receive a $300 monthly vehicle allowance. Read more at the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.

Grand County, Utah (population 9,225): The Grand County Council will be without an administrator beginning Nov. 18. Council members approved 4-2 a resolution last week to exercise the council’s right not to renew the county council administrator’s employment agreement based on “restructuring of the position.” Melinda Brimhall, the current council administrator, said the decision was mutual. Brimhall said the discussions about the status and future of her job began a year ago, after what she referred to as significant personal attacks against her from a number of county elected officials. Brimhall is the seventh administrator to be hired by the county since citizens voted in 1992 to change the form of county government. Brimhall assumed the role of county council administrator in the fall of 2009, after working as a management analyst in the city manager’s office in Casa Grande, Ariz. At the time she was hired, Brimhall made a verbal commitment to stay for two years, she said. Council chairman Chris Baird said at the Oct. 18 meeting that ending Brimhall’s contract is a mutually beneficial decision. He added that the county will restructure the position to better conform to modern state codes. Council members Audrey Graham and Ken Ballantyne voted against the action, stating their disappointment with the county council for allowing the problems between the council administrator and other elected officials to reach this point. Baird offered his appreciation to Brimhall during the meeting and said it was a “tough decision” all around. Brimhall said she is not sure what her next step will be, but she will be leaving the Moab area after completing her final month as council administrator. She will be given six months’ severance pay as part of the agreement. Read more at the Moab Times-Independent.

Rockwood, Tennessee (population 5,705): Rockwood City Council has offered the city administrator’s job to Jack Miller, Crossville’s former top official. Miller received the nod over former Roane County Executive Mike Farmer in a 4-2 vote during a special session Monday, Mayor James Watts said Tuesday. Former Morgan County Executive Becky Ruppe also applied for the city administrator’s post, to be vacated soon by Jim Hines, who is retiring. Watts said he will meet with Miller this week to negotiate a contract and salary, and council will be asked later this month to approve the pact. The job was advertised at $50,000 annually, Watts said. Watts said Miller has a work record that includes extended stints as city manager in several cities. Miller was abruptly fired in January 2008 by the Crossville City Council through a prepared resolution that stated he wasn’t “performing up to desired standards,” according to published reports. Hines, 66, announced plans to retire several weeks ago. Hines, who also performs the duties of city building official and city recorder, said he may stay on as a contract employee to continue to do the building official’s duties. Read more at the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Minden, Nebraska (population 2,923): Matthew Cederburg has accepted the position of City Administrator/Finance Director for the City of Minden. Cederburg, who was recently hired as City Clerk/Treasurer  for the city in June, 2011, was offered the opportunity at the October 12 City Council special meeting and will immediately make the transition into his new position. The formal swearing in of Cederburg will be at the November 7, 2011 City Council meeting. Cederburg fills the administrator position that has been vacant since early summer. Read at The Minden Courier.

Hickman, Nebraska (population 1,657): Silas Clarke of Omaha has been hired as the new city administrator for Hickman. Clarke replaces Brett Baker, who resigned in May to become Seward’s new city administrator. Clarke will begin his duties Nov. 14, said Kelly Oelke, Hickman’s finance director and city clerk. Clarke was assistant grant administrator for the city of Omaha and worked as the high schools’ director of the attendance collaborative at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He also was the capital improvement plan coordinator in Onawa, Iowa. Clarke has a master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis on local government and a bachelor’s degree in political science. Hickman is about 15 miles south of Lincoln. Read more at the Journal Star.