Tranistions: Eau Claire, WI; Stanton, CA; Milton, MA and more

Eau Claire, Wisconsin (65,489): The Eau Claire City Council says its finalist for the job is the current manager of the Village of Brown Deer, Wisconsin, according to WEAU. The council says it picked Russell Van Gompel, who has been the manager in Brown Deer for 14 years. He’s expected to start in early November. The council will formally take up his contract details on August 14. They say the interim city manager, Brian Amundson, will continue to serve in that role until Van Gompel starts. Van Gompel has also been a village administrator and finance director. He graduated from UW-Oshkosh with a degree in business.

Stanton, California (population 36,186): Stanton’s city manager Carol Jacobs will be resigning her post Sept. 6 to serve as the city manager in Eastvale in Riverside County, according to the Garden Grove Journal. Jacobs has served Stanton as its administrative services director and as its city manager for six years. The official position of city manager will go unfilled and its duties, according to Shawver, will be taken over by Jim Box, the assistant city manager. Jacobs’ latest ongoing challenge for the city of Stanton has been to balance the budget. Economic drop out creating a gap between revenue and necessary expenditures caused a fiscal emergency in Stanton over the last few years. Now, massive cuts have been made to the employee pay, staffing and services available in the city. There are now fewer than 20 city employees in Stanton. Contracts with Orange County Fire Authority and Orange County Sherriff’s Department have been re-negotiated in order to bring down the climb of annual costs for public safety in the city.

Milton, Massachusetts (population 27,003): With the controversy over Town Administrator Kevin Mearn still lingering, Milton selectmen will accept applications in the next few weeks from private recruiters and residents interested in serving on a committee to help find the next town administrator, according to The Boston Globe. Selectmen voted 2-to-1 on July to not renew former Mearn’s contract, then voted three days later to terminate his contract. The two selectmen favoring his ouster expressed concerns about communication between Mearn, selectmen, and Police Chief Richard Wells. The decision to form a search committee of five to seven people has not been formalized with a vote, but selectmen agreed to each submit two names to the pool of applicants. A vote is expected to formalize the process at an Aug. 23 meeting. Prior to the discussion about forming a committee, Chairman Tom Hurley read from a statement in which he expressed frustration with the way the town administrator’s contract vote was executed. Selectman Bob Sweeney responded to Hurley’s statement and requested that the board move past controversies surrounding the vote. Selectman Denis Keohane chastised Hurley for not giving himself and Sweeney proper notice of his statement and said that while he does have a response, he was not prepared to give it Thursday night.

Statesville, North Carolina (population 24,532): Statesville City Manager Rob Hites surprised city council members and fellow senior city employees when he announced Monday that he would be retiring from his post effective Aug. 31, according to the Statesville Record & Landmark. Hites, who was hired by the city in February 1998, has spent nearly half of his 30 years in city government working as Statesville’s top executive. Hites said he had planned to retire next year but expedited his plans when the council approved a cost-cutting plan of offering retirement packages to certain qualified employees as a means of trimming the workforce. Hites said he planned to announce his retirement plans at the council’s pre-agenda meeting last Thursday but the meeting was cancelled earlier in the day when it was learned that the meeting would not have a quorum. He said that he had known since early last month that he would be taking the retirement package but kept the information to Assistant City Manager Lynn Smyth and Kutteh. Hites, 60, said he did not know what his immediate plans would be. He said he would like to teach U.S. history or government at the college or high school level but did not say that he would necessarily pursue that path. Prior to coming to Statesville, Hites was city/town manager in Lumberton, Southport and Pittsboro. He also worked in the governments of Durham and Gibsonville and as a contractor for the city of Greensboro. Of the 33 city employees who qualified for the retirement package, only 16 accepted. The council can choose to hire a new city manager from the current staff or advertise to seek external candidates for the position. Hites is earning a salary of just under $129,000.

Woodstock, Illinois (20,151): Tim Clifton will retire in April after serving nearly 20 years as Woodstock’s city manager, according to The Woodstock Independent. Mayor Brian Sager announced the planned retirement July 23 and said the Woodstock City Council will determine a specific search process and timeline for hiring a new city manager at its Sept. 4 meeting. Sager said Clifton has brought strong leadership and professionalism to the position and the impacts of his leadership can be seen throughout the city. Clifton was hired as city manger in November 1993. Before coming to Woodstock, Clifton worked as district customer support manager and governmental marketing consultant at Unisys in Okemos, Mich. He served as city manager of Monroe, Mich. and Boyne City, Mich., and as assistant city manager of Kalamazoo, Mich., before that. While Clifton didn’t point to one single accomplishment during his tenure, he said every city manager wants to leave with their city in a better position when they leave, something he believes has been accomplished. He pointed to the capital improvement programs, the tax increment financing istrict, the economic growth in the city and the management of city finances during difficult economic years as positives during his tenure. While the Council faces the challenge of hiring a new city manager, Clifton said he knows to step out of the way. From now until April, Clifton said he is focused on the tasks at hand. He said various economic development projects, potential retail opportunities and a major year in terms of road construction will keep him busy until his final day as city manager. Sager said he is confident the city will move forward in a positive manner.

Port Angeles, Washington (population 19,038): The Port Angeles city council last night approved a new contract for Dan McKeen to be the next city manager, according to KONP. The former PA fire chief will make $135-thousand dollars a year in his new job. That’s the same amount he was making as the interim manager and is 22 thousand dollars less than Kent Myers made when he left in April. Mayor Cherie Kidd says McKeen also agreed to take out any special benefits that were afforded the city manager and will take the same benefit package as any other department head. McKeen also will get a car allowance of $375 a month. The previous manager’s contract called for the city to purchase a new car and pay more than 62-hundred dollars a year in car allowance. Kidd says she is happy with the contract and shows McKeen’s willingness to be fair and help the city during a tough budget period as well.

North Aurora, Illinois (population 16,760): The village is having to look for a new village administrator, according to the Kane County Chronicle. Village Administrator Wes Kornowske has resigned to take a position with a national trucking company in Green Bay, Wis. His last day is Aug. 23. He did not name the company, saying it was a private firm. Kornowske is from Green Bay. North Aurora Police Chief David Summer will be interim administrator. Kornowske had been the village’s chief administrative officer since March 2010 before being promoted to village administrator last year.

Panama City Beach, Florida (population 12,108): After announcing his retirement more than one year ago, Richard Jackson, Panama City Beach’s city manager of 33 years, has finally set a quit date, according to the News Herald. The Panama City Beach Council approved a resolution accepting the $120,000 per year contract for new City Manager Mario Gisbert at Thursday’s regular council meeting. Gisbert assumed his position as the new Panama City Beach City Manager at 12:01 a.m. Friday when his contract went into effect. Jackson will continue working with Gisbert during the transition period through the end of September. The contract will remain in effect until terminated by either the city or Gisbert. His $120,000 per year salary includes benefits. Gisbert, who has been the city’s assistant manager and Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) project manager for two years, was appointed by the council in late June to replace Jackson. Gisbert, an architect by trade, also held a land development position with the St. Joe Co. The contract, drafted by Baenziger and Associates, the firm hired to coordinate the job search, outlines Gisbert’s salary and evaluation procedures, duties and obligations and grounds for termination. Baenziger and Associates filtered 132 applications for the position and brought back eight finalists to the council. Gisbert was not chosen as a finalist, but was added back to the list upon request by Councilman Keith Curry. After the council further narrowed down the list, Gisbert beat out five other finalists for city manager position, including Bay County Assistant Manager Bob Majka, garnering three of the five votes from the council.

Colusa, California (population 5,971): Colusa and Jan McClintock simply did not mix, according to the Colusa Sun-Herald. That is the headline reason Councilman Tom Reische and Kirk Kelleher gave the day after leading a 3-2 majority vote to terminate the contract of the embattled city manager. The City Council on Tuesday night fired McClintock — ending the longest tenure of any of the many administrators who had come before her. The action goes into effect in two weeks. The vote, with Councilwomen Donna Critchfield and Kay Hosmer dissenting, followed McClintock outlining what she believed to be four years of successes and stable leadership as city manager. McClintock’s usually vocal critics sat quietly in the chamber gallery, and her fiercest council foes offered no comment either despite the outgoing city manager’s own objections to how she had been treated with false accusations from the public, and distrust and deception by the council in recent months. But Reische said Wednesday the situation had gotten to a boiling point, adding McClintock had simply alienated too many people inside City Hall and out. He specifically blamed McClintock for the poor relationship the city has had with the county and a number of local business owners. Kelleher would not elaborate on the issues behind his vote. He said it was a culmination of things, and now that the decision was made, it is time to move forward. Critchfield and Hosmer lashed out at the council majority before casting their votes, accusing them of having personal agendas and failing their fiscal responsibility to the city. Critchfield did not identify the employee, but four independent sources confirmed it involved public works employee John Baldarama over a linen service contract. McClintock disciplined Baldarama because he apparently did not have the authority to execute the contract, and the issue expanded from there. Kelleher said he knew very little about the details of that situation and denied that it was part of his reasons to fire McClintock. Reische said he thought the city manager was in the wrong, but said general issues with city staff and not one specific incident influenced his vote. Hosmer followed in the same vein as Critchfield, accusing some of the council members of serving their own “personal” and “political” needs rather than the city’s welfare. She said the decision to end the contract now, instead of allowing retirement as presented in McClintock’s proposal dated June 28, will cost the city significantly. Hosmer specifically noted the city’s obligation to pay McClintock’s health benefits for life. That situation is created because McClintock announced she intends to retire anyway, making her eligible for the PERS benefit unless she returns to another public position within that system. At her current rate, the city will pay $704 each month. That can change annually, depending on what plan the former city manager chooses. When McClintock becomes eligible for Social Security, the city’s obligation lowers to a supplemental cost, the current average of which is $225.99 monthly. But the cost to the city is balanced by some savings as well. McClintock’s salary was $93,862 annually, minus 2.5 percent ($1,346.55) that was withheld as part of her performance clause. Additionally, the city will not be paying her car stipend of about $350 a month. So the savings through the end of the year would be about $34,270 — all but $1,400 in salary — and less if McClintock left as early as Nov. 7 as stated in her retirement proposal. However, the city is also paying Randy Dunn an additional $2,237.72 per month for handling the duties as acting city manager — a cost that is expected to extend into the new year. The City Council approved the compensation package unanimously Tuesday night. It is based on 30 percent of his salary as fire chief. Reische and Critchfield are on the ad hoc committee looking into the recruitment process. The division between the Reische-Kelleher camp and the Critchfield-Hosmer camp is no surprise. The council members have lined up on opposite sides of many issues, and the political rhetoric has become more personal in recent months. In the end, Mayor Pat Landreth had the deciding vote. The mayor thanked McClintock for her service, then repeated his public refrain that the city needed to move forward. Landreth has said the city was in a kind “of limbo” because of all the division and discourse — and understood McClintock has been at the center of that storm. She has been on paid administrative leave since July 17.

North Hampton, New Hampshire (population 4,301): North Hampton has an immediate need to select an interim Town Administrator to take over until a permanent replacement can be found for outgoing administrator Steve Fournier, who will begin his new post as Newmarket’s town administrator after Labor Day, according to the Hampton-North Hampton Patch. Fournier has spent five years as North Hampton’s town administrator. After a nonpublic meeting of the Select Board Thursday night with Fournier, the Select Board openly discussed the next steps in the search process. Chairman Jim Maggiore said he had been in contact with Newmarket Town Councilor Al Zink and asked if the council could share some of its applicants’ resumes with North Hampton. Select Board member Larry Miller said he didn’t want the process for selecting a new town administrator to spread out over nine months, as the Newmarket search did. Select Board member Phillip Wilson said he suggested looking at three factors when weighing a new candidate. After some discussion, Maggiore said the board will come back to the Select Board meeting on Monday, Aug. 13, prepared to talk about the challenges and characteristics they would look for in a candidate. They are also considering using a recruitment company to help with the search. They also said Monday would be the target date to come up with an ad to look for an interim town administrator. Fournier said he would help to identify recruitment companies as well as prepare an ad for the interim administrator based on his own job description. One 30-year resident attended the meeting last night. He thanked Fournier for a job well done and also suggested the town look into changing the role of town administrator to town manager.

Milo, Maine (population 1,847): A former town official from Belfast will be the town’s new manager if he accepts a $60,000 contract, interim town manager Roger Raymond said Thursday, according to the Bangor Daily News. With Selectman Donald Banker opposing, the Board of Selectmen voted 3-1 during a special meeting on Thursday to offer David Maynard the contract, Raymond said. Maynard indicated that the salary is acceptable and is expected to sign the contract on Friday, Raymond said. If he does, he will start work on Aug. 21. Maynard would succeed Jeff Gahagan. Gahagan resigned as the treasurer of the Three Rivers Kiwanis club on April 5, a day before resigning as town manager, in the midst of an investigation by the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department, according to Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy. The investigation continues. Gahagan told town leaders that he was resigning from the town manager position for health reasons. No allegations about any missing town money have surfaced, but selectmen said they will have an auditor review town finances from April 23 on as a precaution. Raymond was also hired that month. The board praised Gahagan for what they described as his superb work as town manager, saying that when he took the job, the town was in heavy debt and now carries a $500,000 balance. A later audit of a shared town-Kiwanis club account showed $600 missing, officials have said. Police Chief Damien Pickel referred comment on the investigation to the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department. A dispatcher said that no one handling the investigation was available early Thursday night. Maynard worked for Belfast as town manager from 1982 to 1986 before moving out of state, Raymond said. Raymond said he had no further details about Maynard because he was not part of the selection process. He referred comment on the matter to Wilma Stanchfield, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen. Stanchfield did not immediately return a call placed to her home on Thursday night.

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