Transitions: San Mateo County, CA; Washington County, MN; Brentwood, CA and more

San Mateo County, California (population 718,451): County Manager David Boesch, who was hired and groomed to succeed his predecessor three years ago, will leave his position in less than two weeks. Boesch’s resignation announcement this morning came on the heels of a special closed session meeting late yesterday by the Board of Supervisors to discuss his performance evaluation. Boesch said it was clear he and the board had differing philosophies and that he was resigning in the best interests of the organization. Boesch’s last day in the office will be Nov. 15 although his resignation will not be formal until Dec. 31. During that time, he will help transition the interim county manager who has not yet been chosen. Board President Carole Groom said there will be a nationwide search. Boesch joined the county as assistant county manager in February 2007. He was named county manager in November 2008 and officially stepped in the following January after former county manager John Maltbie’s retirement after two decades of service. Boesch was unanimously selected from a candidate pool of 38 winnowed down after recent interviews. Although Boesch was long thought to be Maltbie’s replacement, county officials conducted a wide recruitment. At the time, the Board of Supervisors cited his achievements in criminal justice, health care and budgeting priorities as reasons he rose to the top of the list. He worked  on the health system redesign, planning for a new jail, green building and Shared Vision 2025, a community-wide set of values used to shape the future. Once in the county manager’s seat, Boesch continued work to chop away at a $100 million structural deficit and suggest new methods of budgeting. Prior to working for San Mateo County, Boesch served as Menlo Park city manager from 2000 to 2007, director of community development for Sunnyvale and director of community development for Nashua, N.H. Read more at The Daily Journal.

Washington County, Minnesota (population 238,136): After 25 years at the Washington County Government Center, County Administrator, Jim Schug will retire on Jan. 26. Even after thinking about it for several months, Schug said the ultimate decision to retire was a difficult one. Schug began in Washington County as the community services director and assumed his current post in 1994. The Washington County Board of Commissioners will now begin the process of selecting a replacement for Schug. Schug has more than 37 years of experience in county government, including as a social worker and in human services before becoming an administrator. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and master’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas. Outside of his county administration role, Schug serves on the board of directors of Lakeview Health System, the Stillwater Rotary Club, the Tozer Foundation Board, the Minnesota Association of County Administrators, the Minnesota City/County Management Association and the International City/County Management Association. After his retirement, Schug said he and his wife, Connie, look forward to spending more time with their three daughters and five grandchildren. They live in Stillwater and plan to stay there while also traveling more in the future, Schug said. Read more at the Oakdale Lake Elmo Review.

Brentwood, California (population 51,481): After working 14 years for the city, new Brentwood City Manager Paul Eldredge said that while employees treat him the same, he is trying to get to know everyone all over again in his new role. Eldredge came to Brentwood in 1997 as a senior staff engineer, then moved up to assistant city engineer, followed by assistant director of public works and assistant city manager in January. He managed several major housing, retail and capital improvement projects during Brentwood’s major growth period, including the Streets of Brentwood, the downtown streetscape project and the wastewater and water treatment plants. Although Eldredge enjoyed working as a city engineer, he started getting more exposure to Brentwood’s leadership as assistant city manager while completing his master’s of business administration degree. Former City Manager Donna Landeros became a mentor to Eldredge and encouraged him to succeed her because of his personality and previous training. Before retiring Sept. 30, Landeros said she talked to Eldredge about the city manager position and added that it never gets boring developing good policy and being responsible to five elected officials on the City Council. Eldredge, who turned 40 on Thursday, started his new job Oct. 1. Eldredge has worked with all of the city’s departments in various capacities. He said he has also formed good working relationships with neighboring governmental agencies. City Clerk Margaret Wimberly said the transition from Landeros to Eldredge has been seamless because everyone knows and respects him. Eldredge is working with the City Council to develop a list of goals for Brentwood over the next six to 18 months. He steps into his new leadership position at a busy time with downtown revitalization and Civic Center construction projects coming to a close and as community concern over big-box retailers heats up, with speculation that a Walmart store proposal could be on the horizon. Read more at the Silicon Valley Mercury News.

Monrovia, California (population 36,590): City Manager Scott Ochoa announced that he’s resigning effective Jan. 2 to take Glendale’s top administrative post, ending nearly two decades of employment with the city. Ochoa, who has held his current position since March 2004, tendered his resignation letter at Tuesday’s City Council meeting after the Glendale City Council had appointed him their next city manager earlier in the day. Ochoa, 40, first started working for Monrovia in 1993 as an intern in the City Manager’s Office and Community Development Department, making $6.50 an hour while he was a senior majoring in government at Claremont McKenna College. He worked his way up to several management positions, including assistant city manager and assistant executive director of the Redevelopment Agency before former City Manager Don Hopper retired in 1994. Monrovia City Council members said they were saddened to see Ochoa go, describing him as a visionary with strong organizational and communication skills. Mayor Mary Ann Lutz said Ochoa has taken the city to new heights, not just keeping it “even-keeled” but allowing it to excel amid very bad economic times. During Ochoa’s tenure, the city has been able to create the successful Monrovia Area Partnership (MAP) program to combat blight and crime while empowering neighborhoods and to focus on economic development, Mayor Mary Ann Lutz said. Councilman Tom Adams said one of Ochoa’s most impressive achievements was reopening City Hall on Fridays, while keeping the same extended schedule of 10-hour days Mondays through Thursdays. Ochoa said he is proud that the city has grown its economic base during the worst recession since the Great Depression, filling holes in the city’s sales tax base and bringing in vibrant businesses like Kohl’s, T. Phillips Alehouse and London Gastropub. The city received its lowest sales tax revenue ever in 2009-10, with $5.2 million. However, that figure increased to $5.7 million the following fiscal year and is expected to reach $6 million this fiscal year, officials have said. But Ochoa’s tenure hasn’t been without lessons, he said. If he had a chance to do it over, he probably would have gotten involved in the 2008 negotiations with the Monrovia Police Officers Association sooner, since they became “acrimonious” and “unprecedented” for the city. The City Council approved a five-year contract with the association that ended the dispute over compensation that had dragged on for months, but not before the group had taken out billboards around the city thanking the city manager and council for “higher violent crime” and “fewer officers patrolling.” The relationship with the association “is on the mend” today, he said, and all parties realized that infighting was not in the best interest of the city. KGEM talk show host Ralph Walker said Ochoa was an official that community members either embraced or differed in opinion with. While Ochoa was quick-witted, he could also be biting in the same breath, Walker said, and some questioned whether he was people-oriented enough. The City Council directed staff Tuesday to bring back options to recruit a new city manager. Lutz said it’s likely an interim city manager would be hired until a replacement could be found. Ochoa receives an annual salary of $181,958 and $33,231 in benefits, according to city officials. While Ochoa’s future salary in Glendale is still being negotiated, City Manager Jim Starbird, who is retiring in December, earns an annual salary of $240,000 and receives $25,000 in benefits, according to a city spokesman. Starbird, a onetime West Covina city manager, is also a former Monrovia city manager, having worked there during the 1970s and 1980s. Read more at the Pasadena Star-News.

Fluvanna County, Virginia (population 25,691): Fluvanna County is looking for a new administrator after their old one resigned. Jay Scudder had only been with the county for a little more than a year. Fluvanna Board of Supervisors Chairman John Gooch says while the county wishes the relationship with Scudder would have worked out to a mutual benefit, the board wishes him well.  The county will not comment specifically on what lead up to Scudder’s resignation. Read more at NBC 29.

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.

Leelanau County, Michigan (population 21,708): The end to the tenure of former county administrator Eric Cline may not have been more pleasant than the fate of Leelanau’s first administrator some 25 years ago, but the timing was better. Larry Savage’s contract was yanked by a 4-2 vote of the County Board in 1986 while he was vacationing with his family in Hawaii. He resigned upon returning. Cline’s resignation came during a one hour, 45 minute closed session last Thursday, providing the administrator a face-to-face exchange. While details of the session, closed upon the request of Cline, are not public, Cline clearly wanted to keep his job. The county attorney, who attended the meeting to discuss union contract negotiations, was asked to join the evaluation after commissioners had spent about an hour behind closed doors with Cline. He ended up resigning, with his final day set for Friday. Cline continued to work through this week. As part of his contract, he will receive three months of pay and insurance coverage following his departure. Commissioners had given Cline a three month reprieve after his last job review in July by a 4-3 vote, with county board chair Tom Van Pelt casting the deciding vote following a long hesitation. One of his supporters in that decision, commissioner David Shiflett, did not attend the meeting last week. The County Board voted 6-0 to accept Cline’s resignation. Shiflett’s absence from the latest meeting had no bearing on Cline’s decision to resign, Van Pelt added. He did not speculate on how he would have voted if another vote was taken to continue Cline’s employment. Commissioner Melinda Lautner cast the lone no vote when Cline was hired, and again cast a vote to terminate his contract in July. Cline’s arrival came with warnings of impending problems. After a drawn-out process that lasted more than a year after former administrator David Gill announced his resignation, the County Board narrowed its field of candidates to a top four. Two of those candidates turned down the job due to salary disputes. Lautner said Cline was the fourth choice. He was hired for $68,000 plus a $5,000 moving expense reimbursement — the salary level rejected by the candidates above him. Cline — whose background was mostly in city government; he had been laid off as assistant city manager in Alpena — knew he faced a steep learning curve, but felt he had made progress. Commissioners talked about him not making a “good fit” in his relationship with the board. Commissioners have not laid out a path to deal with Cline’s resignation. After the closed session ended and the resignation announcement, commissioner Richard Schmuckal suggested that county clerk Michelle Crocker, community planner Trudy Galla and executive assistant to the administrator Georgia Robertson divvy up the duties on a short-term basis. Galla and Robertson had previously served as interim administrators. The county has had five administrators over the 25 years the position has existed. Schmuckal also suggested that the county look into hiring an “interim” administrator during the hiring process of a replacement, mentioning former administrator David Gill and former County Board chair Pat Yoder as possible interim candidates. Officially, no decision was made. The next scheduled County Board meeting is set for Tuesday, Nov. 8. Cline’s evaluation and resignation came just one week after the County Board completed a hectic schedule leading up to its approval of a 2012 budget. Van Pelt said the budget schedule did not play into the administrator’s evaluation process. Read more at the Leelanau Enterprise.

Sevierville, Tennessee (population 15,781): SEVIERVILLE — City Administrator Steve Hendrix has resigned, telling Mayor Bryan Atchley in a letter that he no longer felt he was the right person for the job. Hendrix could not be reached Wednesday for comment. He told senior city staff about the resignation during a meeting Wednesday morning, according to information provided by city spokesman Bob Stahlke. Hendrix gave a 90-day notice as required by his contract. He was serving as city manager in Pittman Center when, in 2006, he was appointed assistant city administrator under his predecessor, Doug Bishop. After Bishop died of a massive heart attack in 2008, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen named Hendrix interim director. Following a national search, they selected him as the new administrator in June 2009. During that time, Hendrix took the reins over the city’s most massive project — the Central Business Improvement District (CBID). As part of that, he oversaw the golf course expansion and the opening of the Events Center. As the city has dealt with the recession, he oversaw some of its most austere budgets in recent years. He also had to take the reins and move the city forward at a time when it was reeling from the unexpected loss of Bishop, who was directly involved in many of the city’s negotiations and personally developed many of its plans. Like his predecessor, Hendrix was known for putting in long hours at the job. He could often be reached or found at his office long after 5 p.m. He worked well with the executives from the other local governments, who meet regularly to discuss countywide issues. It isn’t yet clear what action BOMA will take. The board would normally meet Monday but had canceled that meeting because of the Winterfest kickoff. Hendrix’s responsibilities included overseeing the city’s day-to-day operations. Read more at The Mountain Press.

Hugo, Minnesota (population 13,332): After leading the rural Washington County community of Hugo through a population boom, major development growth and a fatal tornado, City Administrator Mike Ericson is moving on to the next challenge. Ericson announced his resignation in an Oct. 19 letter to the mayor and city council. His last day will be Nov. 21, marking more than 11 years with the city. In his resignation letter, Ericson said he had planned to leave next year “to move on in my professional career” but decided to move his departure date forward. The council will approve a separation agreement on Monday and is poised to appoint Community Development Director Bryan Bear as administrator. Bear, who has been with the city for more than seven years, called the split amicable and said he has enjoyed working with Ericson over the years. In recent months, Ericson has applied for open city administrator jobs in other metro communities and was a finalist in both Forest Lake and Mendota Heights. He said Thursday he’s eyeing other opportunities, but doesn’t currently have an offer on the table. He would like to remain in city government and keep his family in the east metro. Ericson came to Hugo in April 2000 after more than a year in Maplewood as assistant to the city manager. Before that, he was city administrator for more than six years in Watertown, Minn., and an administrative assistant for two years in St. Louis County, Minn. He received a degree in public administration from Winona State University and a master’s in urban and regional studies from Minnesota State University-Mankato. When he arrived in Hugo, the city’s population was little more than 6,300. He said Thursday he’s proud the city was able to aptly handle the population boom while maintaining its rural character and small-town feel – features held closely by Hugo residents. Ericson also said he was proud of the city’s response to the deadly 2008 tornado that tore through the city. Petryk applauded Ericson for embracing that attitude and for fostering a people-centered atmosphere at city hall. In his letter, Ericson thanked the city for making his family’s tenure in Hugo “a fun time.” Read more at the Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

Kingston, Massachusetts (population 12,629): Jim Thomas took over as Kingston’s town administrator last week, saying one of his priorities is to lead a review of Kingston’s master plan. The town has not reviewed its master plan since the ’90s, but experience suggests it should be reviewed every five years.  Another priority is economic development, he said. Thomas, 51, who previously was town administrator for West Warwick, R.I., has worked in town government for 25 years. Read more at The Boston Globe.

Sturgis, South Dakota (population 6,627): With a goal of helping to revitalize the downtown and keeping more of the financial benefits of the Sturgis motorcycle rally in the community, the new city manager of Sturgis took office this week. Daniel Ainslie, who was the development manager for the city of Merced, Calif., started the job on Monday by immediately hitting the streets and reaching out to Sturgis residents. Ainslie replaces David Boone, who resigned in April after being found guilty of insurance fraud. He also was the first city manager for Sturgis. Ainslie, who was born in Lemmon, said he had been to the Sturgis motorcycle rally twice before he applied for the job and liked what he saw back then. Ainslie said Sturgis has a lot of potential for growth because the name of the community has national recognition. Ainslie’s other primary goal is to work on the revitalization of the entire downtown area. While working as the development manager in Merced, a central California city of 79,000, Ainslie worked on projects that included a $10 million public parking structure, the restoration of the historic Merced Theater and the development of a 14-unit craftsman-style housing development. Ainslie starts his new job while a petition to change the city manager form of government is being circulated. He said, however, that he hopes the residents of Sturgis will give him a chance before deciding on the fate of their form of city government. Read more at the Rapid City Journal.

Woodside, California (population 5,287): After reviewing dozens of applications and interviewing six people in their search for a new town manager, the Woodside Town Council offered the job to an insider — the current assistant town manager. Kevin Bryant, 40, was the council’s unanimous choice in a closed session vote on Oct. 26, Mayor Ron Romines said. Recent days have been spent negotiating Bryant’s contract, which includes a $195,000 annual base salary, health and pension benefits and a $300 monthly vehicle allowance. The retiring town manager, Susan George, who has worked for Woodside 18 years, is paid an annual salary of $196,000. From a “really strong pool” of 94 applicants, six candidates, including Bryant, were chosen for final interviews with the council and town staff, according to executive recruiter Bobbi Peckham, whose firm was paid $16,000 plus expenses to find George’s replacement. The fact Bryant has no job-hopping plans was also a selling point, Romines said. According to Peckham, the average tenure of a town manager is four to seven years. Bryant lives in San Carlos with his wife and two children, a preschooler and a second-grader at Brittan Acres Elementary School. Read more at the Palo Alto Daily News.

Minden, Nevada (population 4,204): The Minden Town Board voted 3-2 Wednesday to hire China Spring Youth Camp office manager Jenifer Scott as their new town manager. The decision was reached after more than two hours of debate that included 15-minute presentations from finalists Scott, John Greenhut and Travis Lee, Douglas County senior services and public transportation manager. Two other finalists, Michael Jarrett and Aaron Palmer, withdrew from the process prior to Wednesday’s meeting. Scott, 29, is a 17-year resident of Douglas County and a graduate of Douglas High School and Boise State. She described herself as hardworking, dependable, a skilled project manager and good listener. Scott said she had experience managing office staff, budgets, grants, and had testified at the Nevada Legislature on behalf of the camp for juvenile offenders. Scott’s candidacy was supported by Minden vice chairman Steve Thaler who hired her as the camp’s office manager. Thaler urged the board to “scale back the type of person” for the position. Board members Matt Bernard and Charlie Condron favored Greenhut, a Minden resident for six years and retired South Lake Tahoe public works director. Greenhut was a finalist for the position two years ago, and said he reapplied because “I think I have the perfect fit.” He previously worked for the California communities of Gilroy, Sunnyvale and Morgan Hill. Greenhut said he had extensive experience in project management, grant-writing and administration, staff development and handling enterprise funds, reserves and rate-setting. He described his management style as participatory, but said in an emergency he was capable of making independent decisions. In acknowledging that he hired Scott at China Spring, Thaler said he wasn’t biased in her favor. In supporting Greenhut, Condron said the candidate “talked about every one of the issues I wanted to hear about. Water is the big one.” Roxanne Stangle originally withheld her support from any candidate. Stangle said she’d heard from a dozen constituents questioning why the town needed a manager, especially at the salary range of $74,246-$99,756 plus benefits, for the community of 3,000 residents. Chairman John Stephans declined to support any particular candidate, leaving Greenhut with a 2-1 advantage over Scott. The first two times Thaler made motions to give Scott the job, they died for lack of a second. Condron’s motion in support of Greenhut failed 3-2. After a two-minute break, Thaler made another motion in support of Scott which passed 3-2 with Stangle and Stephans adding their support. Bernard assured Scott that despite the split vote, she would have the support of all board members. Town counsel George Keele said he would begin working on Scott’s contract on Thursday. The vacancy was created with the July resignation of Roger Van Alyne who served as the town’s first manager for 15 months. Scott was selected from 38 applicants. Read more at The Record-Courier.

Seward, Alaska (population 2,247): James Hunt, the new Seward City Manager who arrived here last Friday from Kuna, Idaho, has spent the past week in town getting acquainted with his surrounding, the town’s personalities, and with the new job he has landed. He’s had his eyes on Seward since 2007 when he was here as a finalist behind Phillip Oates. Wearing a soft plaid shirt and jeans, with a cup of coffee in his hands, Hunt seemed more relaxed and approachable than during the formal interview process visit  just a short time ago. He’d been dealing with a sewage back-up in his rented house late the night before, that’s how he explained the informal attire. But he took that first mishap in stride, and didn’t appear daunted either by the fierce windstorm that blew through town Tuesday. He’s lived in places like Oregon, where it rains for nine months of the year, or arid places like South Dakota where constant winds blew over the Northern Planes, and where snow-filled streets made even crossing the downtown streets difficult. It was more of a culture shock moving to South Dakota than here, he said. Hunt repeatedly said he felt “very excited” to be here, and is confident that he has the background and temperament to fit in well with the community. He  has been seeking the small town quality of life  Seward offers, as well as the fishing opportunities. Hunt looks forward to waking up, and taking in the “awe inspiring” natural beauty of the resources. He also believes that he has arrived at just the right time to be able to help seize on some economic opportunities that could provide decades of growth unique for Seward such as Coastal Villages and other possibilities for the deep water port, and the Alaska Railroad, which in turn could provide economic well being in the future for its residents. Hunt had spent his first couple of days and weekend driving the streets, and meeting and greeting the residents, especially local business people. He has found everyone to be very warm and welcoming, although folks have not hesitated to bring up their concerns such as rising city fees and cost of living. He says he appreciates hearing from citizens, and promises to set aside time to return phone calls for people to stop by the office, or they may prefer  invite him to talk at a different location of their choosing, which may be less intimidating, he said. By Wednesday afternoon, Hunt had attended a Port and Harbor Advisory Board meeting as they developed their capital improvement wish list for state and federal funding. He’d also attended a meeting with the Seward Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, led by Tom Tougas and Ron Long. They had invited UAA Center for Economic Development Director Christi Bell to Seward in hopes of getting her back to aid them with their efforts to implement ideas that formed at Town Hall style meetings, following the recommendations of last year’s independent survey. Hunt said it appears they’re on the right track. One of his top goals will be to try to remove the barriers to the city being more responsive and customer-friendly which is a problem that he has witnessed elsewhere, and helped other municipalities successfully turn around. Hunt grew up in Sacramento, California, and looks to his mother’s example as a teacher for his own “call to service.” He and his wife Diane, who will move here to live in a couple of months, have lived in Oregon, California, Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. Hunt has a teaching degree and substitute-taught in those last three states. He also worked in, or started up several private businesses, including sales management, an upscale import repair business, computer networking and imaging, and he was a consultant with his wife’s business, an enterprise called Nuisance Abatement LLC. They volunteered frequently in many of the communities in which they lived. Hunt volunteered, and then worked two years for the Council of Governments in territories in the Tri-State Areas of Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota, helping dozens small communities with issues such as senior housing, transportation, lobbying, comprehensive planning and economic development. In 2004,  he began two years as Town City Administrator in Onowa, Iowa and “just loved it.” By then he had already found his true calling, Hunt said. Because of the economic downturn, and the fact that communities were more focused on survival than meeting code requirements, he and Diane have phased out their nuisance abatement business. But wherever he travels, he still can’t help noticing unattractive urban sights that, if addressed,would increase property values and make the area more attractive to potential new residents and businesses. Locals would be “stunned” to see the sort of negative things that visitors have written about Seward on Trip Advisor, he said. Hunt hopes to be able to bring his years of experience dealing with issues, and with economic development genrally to his job as City Manager. The couple has a grown daughter and a granddaughter. Read more at Seward City News.

Navassa, North Carolina (population 750): The Navassa Town Council has approved a three-year contract with Town Administrator Claudia Bray, over the objections of some who wanted to leave that decision to the new town board. The contract was approved on a 4-1 vote Thursday. Councilman Milton Burns voted against the contract because “it is so close to the election” on Tuesday, he said. Burns had urged his fellow councilmen to wait until after the election so the new town council could consider the matter. Bray’s current salary is $48,000 a year. The new town council will have a different makeup, with two seats changing. Mayor Pro Tem Michael Ballard and Councilman Craig Suggs, both of whom voted in favor of the employment contract, are not seeking re-election. Frank Willis, who is running for Suggs’ seat, had asked the council last month not to take up new business, including the administrator’s contract, “until we have had time to understand these issues.” Under North Carolina law, a town administrator serves at the pleasure of the board, which means that even with a contract, an administrator can be terminated “at will” by the governing body. But the new contract with Bray guarantees her six months of severance pay with full medical and insurance benefits unless she is fired “for cause,” such as willful neglect of duty or a felony criminal conviction. Read more at the Star News.

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.