Transitions: Henrico County, VA; DeSoto County, MS; Cupertino, CA and more

Henrico County, Virginia (population 306,935): Henrico County Manager Virgil Hazelett, who has helped guide the county with a firm and steady hand since 1992, announced at the July 24 Board of Supervisors meeting that he will retire in January, according to The Henrico Citizen, Hazelett has spent 40 years in the county’s administration, beginning in 1972, when he was named Henrico’s first traffic engineer. He is credited with strengthening the county’s reputation as one of the most a fiscally sound localities in the nation and has helped Henrico weather difficult economic times without any layoffs or real estate tax increases. Hazelett’s retirement will complete a turnover of the six top appointed officials in the county’s administration during a five-year period. Deputy county managers George Drumwright and Angela Harper announced earlier this year that they would retire, joining three other longtime deputy managers – Harvey Hinson, Leon Johnson and Bob Pinkerton – who had retired since 2008. Hazelett is Henrico’s seventh county manager since the county instituted the form of government in 1934; all seven have been civil engineers. Deputy County Manager for Administration John Vithoulkas, the county’s former director of finance, is viewed as one possible candidate to replace Hazelett.

DeSoto County, Mississippi (population 107,199): DeSotoCounty administrator Michael Garriga has announced he is resigning to take a governmental affairs post in the private sector, according to The Commercial Appeal. Garriga said he plans to remain in his position until Aug. 16. Garriga did not specify what his next career move will be but alluded to a governmental affairs role in private industry. He said he would assist the supervisors in developing an interim leadership strategy to ensure a smooth transition for the county’s management as well as continue working toward the preparation of the county’s 2013 fiscal year budget, estimated in the $110 million range, before his departure. The Mississippi State University graduate joined DeSoto County government in 2001 as deputy director of planning and was appointed in 2004 as county administrator, DeSoto government’s top nonelected post. The Clinton native received a bachelor’s degree from MSU in 1996, followed by a master’s in public policy and administration in 1998. Russell said he “really wasn’t surprised” when Garriga called on him to advise of his departure. Garriga’s tenure at the top has coincided with huge county population growth and rising demand for services, and then an economic recession and revenue strains that have posed challenges to keeping services flowing. More than 600 full- and part-time workers are employed by the county. Services in the nonelected departments range from code enforcement to zoning to operating an animal shelter and a rubbish pit. As to Garriga’s replacement, an interim administrator is expected to be named by the supervisors to serve after Garriga leaves while the five-member panel mounts a nationwide search for a permanent chief. The post’s salary is in the $100,000 range. Supervisor Bill Russell says an interim administrator is expected to be named by the supervisors to serve after Garriga leaves while the board searches for a permanent replacement.

Cupertino, California (population 58,032): The city of Cupertino has announced the selection of David Brandt as the new city manager, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Brandt, who succeeds former city manager David Knapp, previously served as city manager in Redmond, Ore., since 2009. He has also worked in Alameda. Brandt is scheduled to begin his duties in Cupertino on Sept. 10. In the meantime, former Sunnyvale City Manager Amy Chan, serving as interim city manager since April, will continue to occupy the position.

Brandt was hired by the city of Redmond in July 2009, according to The Source Weekly. The former city manager of Redmond had been Mike Patterson, who resigned in December of 2008 after being arrested for assaulting his wife. He later pled guilty to an assault charge. In January, Mike Patterson became the city manager of Florence, Colo., a town of about 3,600, according to that city’s website. Brandt’s last day will be August 30.

Grand Island, Nebraska (population 48,520): Grand Island City Councilman John Gericke wants the resignation of former City Administrator Mary Lou Brown brought before the city council, according to The Grand Island Independent. He wants the council to vote to ratify Brown’s Sept. 30 resignation — effective immediately. Gericke raised the concern this week after he and his fellow council members were called Monday afternoon into Mayor Jay Vavricek’s office, individually and in small groups, to discuss possibly bringing Brown back to council meetings. The mayor posed the idea. Gericke said he thought the question “was strange.” He and another council member in his meeting were adamantly against the idea. Council President Peg Gilbert was also against bringing Brown back to meetings. Vavricek announced Brown’s resignation at the start of the June 26 city council meeting. He gave no reason. It came as a surprise to the public, city staff and most of the council members. But Gericke believes the mayor lacks the legal authority to take such unilateral action.He said state statute requires both the mayor and the council to end the employment agreement of a “constitutional officer.” The city’s constitutional officers are the city administrator, city engineer, city treasurer, city clerk and city attorney. Brown’s five-page employment agreement carries the same language in Section 3A(2), called “Termination for Reasons other than Just Cause and Consideration Given for the Release of all Claims Against the City.” It states: “In the event the mayor, with the approval of the city council, during the term of this agreement, terminates employee for reasons other than just cause, the city agrees to pay the employee in a single lump-sum payment an equal amount to three months of the employee’s salary.” The payout does not include other benefits such as retirement and insurance. Termination for just cause also requires action by “the mayor, with the approval of the city council,” the contract states. However, in the event of her voluntary resignation, the contract calls for Brown to give “60 days written notice in advance,” and no special lump sum payout is required. The voluntary resignation clause makes no reference to being accepted by either the mayor or the council. Gilbert said the matter is really one for the city’s legal department to resolve. The city hired Brown as finance director in July 2009. She was named interim city administrator in December 2010 and promoted to city administrator in April 2011. Her current annual salary is $116,849, making a severance buy-out total of about $29,000. Her term was to run concurrently with Mayor Vavricek’s term, which ends December 2014. Vavricek said the city would issue a statement about the interim city administrator position at 2 p.m. Thursday. He intends to request it be added to the next city council agenda. Gericke said it’s his understanding that the Sept. 30 deadline was proposed by Brown herself. The Independent requested a copy of the letter Wednesday, but also was not provided a copy. Gericke favors paying Brown a severance amount and moving on. Gilbert, though, sees Brown’s involvement in the budget as useful to the city and a good use of resources. Finance Director Jaye Monter is preparing her first city budget, Gilbert said, and might find it helpful to have input from Brown. Gericke said it’s an arrangement that doesn’t feel right. Gericke said Brown’s contract with the city also needs to end so the city can hire an interim city administrator. Ratifying her resignation “effective immediately” may help open the city administrator position so that an interim could be named, he said. Gericke said the city has set policy on the number of staff it will have and what that staff is paid. Having two people in the same position is problematic. Vavricek announced July 10 his intention to hire Grand Island Area Economic Development Corp. President Marlan Ferguson, a former Grand Island city administrator, as the interim city administrator. The mayor said that ratification would occur July 24, with Ferguson starting Aug. 6. However, the interim city administrator issue wasn’t even on the July 24 agenda. Vavricek explained he “needed more time,” but he didn’t specify why or how much time he needed. Gericke said the actions are just more “off-the-wall stuff” the mayor has come up with lately that makes it hard for the council or the public to follow. Gilbert said simply there appears to be details to work out, but she doesn’t want Brown back with face time at City Hall. Seeing Brown “involved in the city in any public way … would diminish that hope or spirit that we’re moving on in a positive direction,” Gilbert said.

Puyallup, Washington (population 37,022): The City of Puyallup will be looking for a new chief executive after City Manager Ralph Dannenberg confirmed last week that he’s leaving his job, according to The Puyallup Herald. Dannenberg said Thursday the city council “feels a change is appropriate” and that he “(concurs) with their assessment.” He didn’t elaborate during the brief phone conversation. Dannenberg said the details of his departure are being worked out, but he doubts he’ll return to city hall in an official capacity. He’s on a scheduled vacation through next week. The 64-year-old met with the seven-member council in an executive session during their regular July 17 meeting. Under state law, city councils generally can’t meet out of the public eye except in certain cases, such as for some personnel matters. Mayor Rick Hansen said he couldn’t disclose details of what was discussed Tuesday, but “when we came out of that executive session, Ralph said he was going to retire.” On Thursday, Hansen and Deputy Mayor John Knutsen both declined to say anything else about the circumstances, including whether Dannenberg had a choice to remain with the city. Dannenberg began to work as city manager on a temporary basis during spring 2010. His predecessor, Gary McLean, clashed with some on the council and resigned without publicly giving a reason. Dannenberg had been Puyallup’s parks director. As interim city manager, he quickly was faced with an anticipated $5 million city budget shortfall. The city council voted unanimously in October 2010 to keep him on permanently, praising his budget work and his efforts to stabilize the city government. The council has seen significant turnover since then. This year, there are four new faces and a new majority that has undone some of the work of last year’s council. Dannenberg said Thursday that such a transition “is a difficult thing” for a city manager and the whole staff. News of Dannenberg’s departure came during a tense week at the city. At the same council meeting, Hansen accepted an admonishment from his colleagues in response to a report made this spring by a female city employee of “unwelcome contact.” Dannenberg’s staff investigated the report, and Dannenberg followed up with a memo to Hansen in May, advising him to conduct himself appropriately with city employees. Dannenberg also encouraged Hansen to attend “one-on-one training,” which he did. When The News Tribune received the memo in early July through a public records request, Dannenberg declined to describe specifics, citing advice from city attorneys. The city released more details July 17 after a follow-up request from The News Tribune. At least one council member found some fault with how the situation was handled. Knutsen praised Dannenberg’s response to the employee’s complaint but said he “would have preferred that the news media had been handled differently by the city.” Knutsen said once the matter became public, the city should have provided more details more quickly so speculation would end. Under Puyallup’s form of government, the city manager is the chief executive who oversees staff members and daily operations. The city has more than 280 employees. The city manager reports to the council. Dannenberg was Puyallup’s parks director for nearly 13 years before he became city manager. Before that, he spent 20 years working for the City of Pullman. Last year, his gross earnings were $172,027, according to the city. While Dannenberg is on vacation, the city’s finance director will fill in. City staff last week contacted a consulting firm to discuss helping with a search for an interim city manager, city spokesperson Glenda Carino said. Dannenberg had been formally evaluated once since he took the job. Last summer, the council gave him high marks. Council members John Palmer and Kent Boyle both said Thursday they didn’t want to see him go. Dannenberg said he’s pleased with his time as city manager, pointing specifically to his budget work.

Post Falls, Idaho (population 27,574): Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin told The Press that City Administrator Eric Keck submitted a letter of resignation on July 30, according to The Coeur d’ Alene Press. Larkin said he is saddened by the news of Keck’s departure, that Keck served the city well. Keck was hired in 2006 to replace Jim Hammond. He serves on several community boards including the Boys and Girls Club of Kootenai County. The mayor said Keck has chosen another career path. Larkin would not provide additional details. Keck will remain in the city administrator position through the end of August.

Milton, Massachusetts (population 27,033): After 39 years as a town employee, including 15 years as Police Chief and five years in his most recent position, Kevin Mearn is no longer the Milton Town Administrator, according to the MiltonPatch. Mearn’s one-year contract was not renewed in a Board of Selectmen executive session on July 18. Despite a large show of community support for Mearn, including a petition with 165 signatures, the Selectmen reaffirmed the decision Monday night in a meeting at the Council on Aging. Like the closed-door vote, Chair Tom Hurley was the only vote to keep Mearn. Bob Sweeney and Denis Keohane voted not to renegotiate the contract, which expired on June 30. Throughout the meeting, which included over 30 minutes of comment from the public, a conflict between Mearn and Police Chief Richard Wells Jr. arose as one of the principle reasons Mearn’s contract was not renewed. Following the vote and without directly mentioning Wells, Mearn said the issues began when he pointed out “serious irregularities” by a department head. Sweeney went beyond the rift between Mearn and Wells, stating he had spent the last two years—the length of his current term on the Board of Selectmen—attempting to build a professional relationship with the Town Administrator. “It hasn’t worked,” said Sweeney, who is currently the most senior member of the board. Hurley, who is entering the second year of his three-year term and previously chaired the Warrant Committee, rejected Sweeney’s analysis. Several speakers mentioned the Selectmen’s perceived desire to start a new board with a new Town Administrator. Like those members of the public, Mearn disagreed with the new direction. Many residents rose in support on Mearn Monday including, former Town Administrator John Cronin, former Selectman John Michael Shields, former Fire Chief Malcolm Larsen and members of Mearns family as well as several citizens. Shields, who most recently served on the board from 2006 to 2012 after losing to Keohane by a margin of 49 percent to 46 percent in March, called the move “ill-timed and ill-conceived.” Many of the supporters took time to thank Mearn for his service. Speaking on behalf of his family, Kevin’s son Chris also thanked those in attendance during his statement. Prior to the discussion Monday, Hurley read a letter from Mearn offering to retire one year from the date of his last contract. The suggestion was not considered publicly. Annmarie Fagan, the current Assistant Town Administrator was appointed the interim Town Administrator. The Selectmen, with a recommendation of the Personnel Board, voted to increase her current salary to $125,000 while serving in the vacated position. The Board of Selectmen will compile a list of characteristics they’d like in the next Town Administrator and the creation of a search committee at its next meeting.

Bedford, New Hampshire (population 21,203): After nearly nine months and two searches, the Bedford Town Council has selected its next town manager, according to the BedfordPatch. Jessie W. Levine of Springfield, NH, was chosen after the Council interviewed the four finalists yesterday. Following the decision, the Council met with and authorized Municipal Resources, Inc. (MRI), the firm conducting the search, to negotiate a conditional offer of employment with Levine. This morning, council members were notified she has accepted the offer. Council members is expected to formally vote on the appointment and review and finalize employment terms at the its next meeting, on Aug. 15. Subject to completion of a background check and evidence of general good health, the Council is anticipating that Levine will be on the job as of Tuesday, Sept. 4. Levine holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College and has completed necessary course work for her Master’s Degree in Public Administration at the University of New Hampshire. She currently serves as the Assistant Town Manager and Human Resources Director in Hanover and prior to that she was the Town Administrator for 10 years in New London. Prior to beginning her public management career in New London, Levine was a legal assistant and litigation manager for two Boston law firms, she has served as a member of the Board of the NH Local Government Center, she’s an active member of the Municipal Managers Association of NH and the International City & County Management Association and she’s involved in a number of civic and community service organizations. Levine is also an alumnus of the Leadership NH Program, the recipient of the 2007 ICMA Program Excellence Award and she was designated as one of the 40 Emerging Leaders in NH by the Union Leader/BIA in 2010.

New Kent County, Virginia (population 18,429): District 4 county supervisor Ron Stiers confirmed Wednesday that County Administrator Cabell Lawton resigned from his position Monday night in a special called meeting, during which the supervisors went into closed session, according to The Virginia Gazette. Assistant County Administrator Rodney Hathaway was named interim County Administrator at a Wednesday work session. New Kent Battalion Chief Lisa Baber was also appointed the position of Fire Chief. In addition to serving as the County Administrator, Lawton had also replaced Fire Chief Tommy Hicks last month. Hicks was initially suspended without pay on June 12, following a unanimous closed session vote by the Board of Supervisors on Monday, June 11. Lawton led the internal investigation, and according to Stiers, fired Hicks on June 22.

Beeville, Texas (population 12,863): Deborah Ballí was appointed Beeville city manager during a July 10 meeting by a 3-0 vote of the City Council, according to the Bee-Picayune. Ballí first came to Beeville in 2010 to work as finance director. She replaced Beeville native Robert Aguilar in that position. City Council members who voted to place her in the top management position at City Hall got a solid look at the direction Ballí intends to take the city during their first budget workshop last Thursday evening. At the meeting, the new city manager unveiled a six-goal plan, each of which has a number of suggestions to improve the quality of life here. Goal one calls for making the city a livable, attractive and sustainable place to live. Goal two is to promote economic development in the community by hiring an economic development director for the city and establishing an economic development advisory committee. Goal three would be to make Beeville a safe and prepared community. Goal four would be to maintain excellent, conservative finances while maintaining the efficient delivery of services. Goal five would be to maintain the city’s infrastructure to the highest quality. Goal six is to implement a strategic business plan. With increased income from sales taxes, hotel and motel occupancy taxes and business expansions, Ballí believes this is the time to take advantage of the situation. Ballí was born in Corpus Christi but spent most of her school years in Michigan. She moved back to Corpus Christi, where she attended classes at Del Mar College and Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi. She has worked at several jobs over the years and was an employee in the finance office for the City of Corpus Christi. She is a certified public accountant. Ballí and her husband, George, are looking for a home to buy in Beeville.

Fortuna, California (population 11,926): At a time when Fortuna has had to deal with a $500,000 budget deficit and is in the middle of a major reservoir replacement project, its incoming city manager said he wants to know what issues the city faces before making major changes, according to the Times-Standard. Candelario comes to Fortuna from Guadalupe, a small city in northern Santa Barbara County, where he is currently the city administrator. He will begin his new job as Fortuna’s city manager on Sept. 1. Originally from Hayward, Candelario earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University, Long Beach before becoming an intern for the city of Santa Ana in Orange County. He worked with Santa Ana for about 17 years before moving with his family to San Luis Obispo. Guadalupe hired him in January 2010. Candelario said coming to Fortuna, which is slightly bigger and has a larger staff, was a nice step up for him from Guadalupe. Candelario said one of his challenges in Guadalupe is bringing the city out of debt. According to the Lompoc Record, in 2010 Guadalupe had to deal with a $200,000 budget deficit. Guadalupe also had a $447,000 budget deficit for the 2012-13 fiscal year, according to the Santa Maria Times. Candelario said he has worked for two and a half years to reduce the amount of debt as well as operating deficits Guadalupe has had. The state elimination of redevelopment agencies in February brought Guadalupe’s progress back to square one, he said. The elimination of redevelopment is responsible for the Fortuna’s budget deficit, city officials have said. Calendelario replaces former City Manager Duane Rigge, who retired on June 30. The Fortuna City Council hired former County Administrative Officer Loretta Nickolaus as interim city manager until Candelario starts in September. Under Candelario’s three-year contract, he can be terminated with a majority vote of the council. Candelario will receive an annual base salary of $107,000 with a 3 percent raise in 2013 and a 5 percent raise in 2014 based on performance objectives being met. Candelario will move to Fortuna with his wife and 11-year-old daughter. He has two other children, a son, 22, and a daughter, 17.

Harrisburg, North Carolina (population 11,526): Harrisburg has hired Michael Rose as new Town Administrator, according to the Town web site. Rose comes from Pineville where he oversaw a budget of $25 million and 85 employees. Rose has served in Pineville a total of 13 years, starting as a town planner, then moving on to assistant town administrator. He has served as town administrator for the past six years. Rose is schedule to begin is duties in Harrisburg on August 1st.

Essex Junction, Vermont (population 9,271): The Essex Junction trustees, who are cutting ties with their municipal manager David Crawford, say they “would benefit from new leadership” in the daily operation of the local government, according to newly released public records obtained by the Burlington Free Press. The three-page “termination agreement” says the village “recognizes and appreciates Mr. Crawford’s years of service to the village as manager, but believes that the community would benefit from new leadership and a fresh perspective, especially as the village explores new ideas regarding consolidation and management.” The termination agreement was among a series of documents released by the village of Essex Junction when the Burlington Free Press filed a Vermont Public Records request late last week following the announcement that Crawford is leaving on Oct. 1. The agreement shows Crawford, who is paid $96,408 a year, will receive six months severance pay on or before Oct. 1. He also gets paid for any unused vacation or comp time. The village also agreed to continue to provide health, dental and vision insurance, along with a $50,000 life and disability insurance plan for six months, according to the signed agreement. The settlement terms reflects much of the benefits included in his initial contract. The five Essex Junction trustees approving the termination agreement this month were all elected to the board since Crawford’s hiring in January 2008. The current board has four members that joined since April 2011. The senior member, Village President George Tyler, was first elected in the spring 2008 a few months after Crawford’s hiring. Between June 26 and the announcement last week about Crawford’s departure, the Village trustees held at least six meetings. Four were special meetings — three for “personnel” discussion and one on July 19 to discuss “manager’s agreement revision.” In the two regular meetings, the board’s agenda warned of an executive session to discuss “personnel.” Crawford has been at odds a few times with several board members both before and after they were elected as trustees. The biggest conflict may have been over the village recreation department and whether the village of Essex Junction had fully given it to the school district in 1970, or if it was just to oversee the daily operation. Some were unhappy that the trustees sued the school district in 2011 in an attempt to get a binding legal interpretation of the action taken 40 years ago. Other records released by the village show Crawford’s most recent raise came in March 2011 when he was entitled to a $3,510 increase, but ended up getting a $2,808 because the trustees cited “current economic considerations.” The records showed his performance evaluation was “very good” in March 2011. This year the trustees refused to give Crawford a raise, Tyler and Village Vice President Dan Kerin said Sunday. The village’s announcement to the media and a separate notice to employees, mentioned that Crawford could be retained in a part-time status to oversee some of the projects facing the village. The city of Winooski has hired Crawford to work up to three days a week as its business manager. Crawford, who lives in South Burlington, has more than 45 years experience in both pubic and private sector jobs in Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut. His public sector jobs in Vermont included as a town manager in Middlebury for 15 years and in Morristown for three years; business manager for St. Albans City schools for eight years and as commissioner of Public Works in Rutland for three years. The trustees are scheduled to meet at 6:30 Tuesday night at Lincoln Hall at the Essex Five Corners. The future management of the village, including on an interim basis, will be discussed.

Delta County, Colorado (population 8,915): In a brief news release issued Tuesday, the county commissioners announced that Robbie LeValley had officially accepted the county commissioners’ job offer as Delta County administrator, according to the Delta County Independent. County administrator Susan Hansen has announced that she will retire in September after 23 years with county government, 20 of those as county administrator. The position she is leaving has been compensated with pay and benefits in the $100,000 per year range. LeValley is a 23-year employee of Colorado State University Tri River Area Extension and is currently the area livestock and range extension agent. She and her family operate a livestock business south of Hotchkiss.

Freeport, Maine (population 7,879): The town of Freeport has a new manager, according to KeepMeCurrent.com. On Monday, July 30, town officials announced that they have selected Peter Joseph, who is currently the town manager of Lincoln, N.H., as the pick to replace current Town Manager Dale Olmstead, Jr. who will retiring from the job in the fall. Joseph, 30, has been the town manager in Lincoln, N.H., since 2008, and prior to that, he was the assistant to the town administrator in Peterborough, N.H. At a reception to allow the finalists for the position to meet the public earlier this month, Joseph said sought the Freeport position because of the town’s reputation. Joseph’s hiring will not become official until the Town Council ratifies his contract at its next meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 6:30 p.m., in the council chambers.

Paris, Maine (population 4,427): Selectmen hope to extend a job offer for the position of town manager by early November, according to the Oxford Hills Sun Journal. The Board of Selectmen didn’t vote, but discussed a timeline that would begin advertising for the position next week, leaving plenty of time for interviews, reference checks and background checks before Town Manager Phil Tarr’s contract expires Jan. 3. The board voted in June to give Tarr notice they wouldn’t renew his contract at the end of the year. Without notice, the contract would have been renewed automatically in January. The board also will ask for citizens’ suggestions on what makes a good town manager, which could help the board form questions to ask applicants in interviews. Selectmen said they hope to begin reviewing applications in mid-September and conduct interviews on Sept. 22 and 29. They’ll vote on a schedule for the hiring at the Aug. 13 meeting. Early in the workshop, Selectman Robert Kirchherr said there were good reasons to charge a citizen committee to initially go through applications. He said it would give the message to applicants that residents are active participants in town affairs, and would allow people “who have some experience in hiring and firing people” to be involved in the process. Other selectmen said the board should have an active role throughout the hiring of a new town manager. Chairman Sam Elliot said he’d object to turning the work over to a committee.

Edgewood, New Mexico (population 3,375): After Aug. 20, Karen Mahalick will no longer be employed by the town of Edgewood, according to the Mountain View Telegraph. A decision was made at a special town council meeting on July 23. As of Aug. 20, Mahalick will be replaced by Kay Davis, who worked with Edgewood Mayor Brad Hill when they were both working at the New Mexico Economic Development Department’s housing division. The decision to make the change was approved by councilors Chuck Ring, Sherry Abraham, and Rita-Loy Simmons. Councilor John Abrams abstained from voting. Prior to making the decision to make a change to the town’s top position, Hill said he evaluated the situation for his first four months in office. That included evaluating how the town staff related to each other and other factors.

Wiggins, Colorado (population 893): Wiggins Town Administrator Bill Rogers resigned effective last Friday, which resulted in the Wiggins Board of Trustees deciding during its meeting on Wednesday how to run the town without him, according to The Fort Morgan Times. Trustees voted unanimously to distribute his duties between Wiggins Town Clerk Craig Trautwein and Public Works Director Jon Richardson, at least until the Wiggins water project is finished. Richardson will act as the designated representative to Industrial Facilities Engineering, the firm that is overseeing the construction of the water project meant to replace the town’s failing water wells. He would report to the town on the progress of the construction, transmit instructions to contractors and render decisions in the field. Trautwein would act as the point person with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which gave the town the loan and grant for the water project, and must approve any and all changes to the project. He would take care of the paperwork the town needs done. The board also decided to hire two part-time employees: one to help with office work and one to help with public works, since Trautwein and Richardson would be overwhelmed without help, especially while the water project is under way. In the future, the town might replace the administrator, but anyone who came in now would not be up to speed on the water project, and might take valuable time to train, board members generally agreed. He or she would not have institutional knowledge, Richardson pointed out. A town administrator may be necessary if the town wants to work on its comprehensive plan for the future of the town, which includes needed work on the wastewater system, said Trustee Karol Kopetzky. Trautwein said he and Richardson could handle the basic duties of the town without an administrator as long as they had at least part-time help. The board instructed Trautwein to start advertising for a 24-hour-a-week office position at the rate of $10 an hour, and a public works position at the same rate of pay and hours. Advertisements will run for the next two weeks. He noted this means the town does not have to pay for health insurance for the new employees. He also noted that the pay for the part-time employees could come out of the money formerly paid to Rogers. Kopetzky also suggested that the town retain the services of Nation Engineering to help with any technical consultation over some of the water issues the town faces. Mayor Margarito “Mac” Leon Jr. said he expected that the work load even when the water project is finished might mean that more employees are needed for the foreseeable future. Trautwein warned that the town could not expect to hire a town administrator at the $34,000 a year that Rogers made for the job. Anyone qualified for the job would probably ask $50,000 or more. Some of the trustees talked about giving Trautwein and Richardson additional pay for the additional work they will be taking on. Kopetzky suggested having an outline of their new duties before deciding on any new compensation. In a telephone interview Wednesday evening, Bill Rogers said he left his position because he was tired of the board giving him a hard time, and that the situation was becoming something of a “witch hunt,” full of hostile confrontations. Bill Rogers had said in the past that he would retire when the water project was finished, but at the age of 70 was ready to retire. Rogers said it seemed like the new board of trustees had an agenda coming in to get rid of him and to make the water project look bad.

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