Transitions: Port St. Lucie, FL; Deltona, FL; Mission, TX and more

Greg Oravec

Port St. Lucie, Florida (population 166,149): Port St. Lucie Council voted Thursday morning 4-0 to accept City Manager Greg Oravec’s separation agreement, according to WPTV. Mayor JoAnn Faiella postponed her State of the City speech, which was supposed to be held Thursday morning, in lieu of the special City Council meeting called to “consider the removal of the city manager.” Mayor JoAnn Faiella called for a hour long recess when the meeting began to discuss an “agreement” but would not specify the details of the arrangement. City council member Michelle Berger was absent from the meeting as a crowd of more than 50 people packed inside city council chambers for the special meeting. The meeting began at 9 a.m. at Port St. Lucie City Hall, 121 S.W. Port St. Lucie Blvd. On Monday, Oravec suggested the City Council strike “an amicable separation agreement” with him before his contract expires in March 2014. He also released 85 pages of emails and personal notes that document poor relations between him and some council members. A state open government watchdog said they indicate Sunshine Law violations because Oravec was being told that four of the five council members no longer supported him, without having discussed it in a public meeting. A new date has not been set for Faiella’s State of the City speech.

Deltona, Florida (population 83,530): In a surprise move, Deltona’s city manager abruptly resigned from office Monday night, according to News 13. However, Faith Miller knew a motion to fire her would be called at the  commission meeting. She instead chose to resign. Miller has been with the city for the past 17 years, first as a city clerk, and became the city manager in 2008. Miller did not want to reveal who the commissioner was. But News 13 learned it was newly-elected commissioner Chris Nabitch, the city’s former fire marshal. Miller fired Nabitch from that post several years ago. Nabitch did not want to comment on camera, but admitted Miller turned down his ultimatum Friday. Miller did not show up for work Monday and called Mayor John Masiarczyk two hours before the city commission meeting. Miller faced and survived several attempts to oust her during her tenure as city manager, including from Vice Mayor Zenaida Denizac. She called for Miller’s termination two years ago and knows how she would vote if the motion for termination came up. Miller keeps her severance package, which includes her $133,000 salary for a year and other benefits. Assistant City Manager David Dennys is now the interim city manager.

Mission, Texas (population 77,058): The Mission city manager submitted his resignation Wednesday after about eight years on the job, according to The Monitor. Julio Cerda will leave the city Feb. 28 to open his own engineering firm. He joined the city staff in 2003 as the city engineer and moved up the ranks to become city manager in 2005. The City Council has not yet decided on an interim replacement for his post. The city will give Cerda $158,000 as a part of an unconditional release, meaning Cerda will have to “release any and all claims known or unknown that he may have against the city,” City Attorney David Guerra said. Guerra said unconditional release agreements are common and he tries to get them from every city employee who leaves. Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas said Cerda does not have any claims against the city. Cerda will also receive about $24,000 that is left from sick and vacation time and will stay on the city health insurance for a year. The city manager thanked the City Council and staff during his speech. He said after the meeting that he was not resigning because of political pressure and that it was simply time to move on. He noted that he has held the position longer than any other Mission city manager in the past 40 years. Salinas said he was happy with Cerda’s work, particularly on expanding the city’s water and wastewater treatment plants. Cerda’s expertise as a public engineer also helped with the creation of Anzalduas Highway leading to the Anzalduas International Bridge, Salinas said. Cerda said he’s enjoyed his relationship with the City Council and hugged the members after the meeting. He spoke about the city’s major growth during his tenure and the importance of instituting new services while keeping a healthy fund balance. The City Council recently renewed Cerda’s contract to extend to October 2013.The mayor — known for publicly admonishing city employees, particularly Cerda, during City Council meetings — noted that he pushes Cerda, but he said he still respects the work he’s done.

Rice County, Minnesota (population 64,142): Rice County administrator Gary Weiers announced his upcoming resignation at Tuesday’s Rice County Board of Commissioners meeting, according to the Fairbault Daily News. The announcement was met with mixed emotions as commissioners expressed their regret to see Weiers go, but also respectful of his career decisions. Weiers, who has held the position for 10 years, has helped the county weather the hardship of the recession. A good communicator, Weiers is known for his fair approach and common sense in county government. In an email sent to all county staff on Tuesday morning, Weiers alerted his co-workers of his pending departure in advance of the public announcement. Weiers had nothing but praise for the people he’s worked with at Rice County. After a decade with the county, Weiers is leaving to work in the private sector as a consultant for David Drown & Associates–a Minneapolis-based consultant firm specializing in financial solutions for the public sector. Weiers said that he will do what he can to make sure the board finds a suitable replacement. Malecha said that the Personnel Committee will convene soon to discuss the county’s options. Weiers’s last day will be March 22.

Campbell, California (population 39,349): The Campbell City Council will vote on filling the City Manager position this Tuesday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. during its regular council meeting, according to the Campbell Patch. Amy Brown announced she would be leaving Campbell for a job at the county of Santa Clara on Jan. 18. Cupertino’s Director of Parks and Recreation Mark Linder will replace Brown. According to the council agenda, Linder will take over the City Manager position starting Feb. 19 and will be initially paid $199,500 annually, with the council reviewing his performance annually. He will be given a monthly car allowance of $225 to compensate him for using his personal car for city business, $40 a month for cell phone service and he will receive 15 days of paid vacation and five days of sick leave. For the fiscal year 2013, the City Manager is subject to 56 furlough hours, which according to the agenda memo will be prorated for the period of Feb. 19 to June 30. Linder’s career has taken him all over Silicon Valley, including five years at the city of Cupertino as the Director of the Parks & Recreation department, three years at the city of San Jose as Deputy City Manger, Assistant City Manger and Director of Park, Recreation and Neighborhood Services, four years at the Town of Los Gatos as the Assistant Town Manager, four years at the Santa Cruz Metro Transit as the Assistant General Manager. Brown was hired in 2011 to replace Dan Rich, who had been with the city of Campbell for six years as its City Manager. He left Campbell to become the City Manager of Mountain View. Four the approximately four months between Rich leaving and Brown being hired, the Campbell City Councilappointed Al Bito as the Interim City Manger.

Poughkeepsie, New York (population 32,736): Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik said today he has appointed Camilo Bunyi, the city commissioner of finance, as new city administrator, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal. The position has been vacant since Michael Long, who was hired in mid-2008, left on Sept. 19 for a post in Oneonta. Bunyi, who has served as finance commissioner for Poughkeepsie since 2008, has served frequently in the capacity of acting administrator when Long was out of town. He is currently acting city administrator. Bunyi resides in the City of Poughkeepsie. The Poughkeepsie Common Council must vote on confirming Bunyi as new city administrator. The council is holding a special meeting at 6 p.m. Feb. 7 to act on the appointment. Tkazyik said the salary Bunyi will be paid is still being negotiated. His current annual salary as finance commissioner is $84,448.

South Burlington, Vermont (population 17,904): Monday night, Chairwoman Rosanne Greco said Miller’s $117,000 contract included a provision for dismissal at any time, without cause, with 12 months worth of pay and benefits, according to WPTZ. On Tuesday the Council released a statement detailing some of the reasoning behind the dismissal saying Miller’s “interactions with the council had become strained.” The statement goes on to say council members were “concerned about complaints received from the community that Mr. Miller pursues city matters with an aggressive and confrontational style.” Meanwhile, some residents said they would have liked to see the situation handled differently. Despite having to pay more than $117,000 to fire miller, the city said “The need for an immediate change in the city’s top management position outweighs the cost of the severance package.” The council said it wants to improve relations with city residents, businesses and non-profits, and that it wants to create a better work environment as looks for its next City Manager.

Holden, Massachusetts (population 17,346): Jacquelyn Kelly, who will officially be sworn in as town manager on Feb. 1, has released the details of the three-year contract she negotiated in a series of executive sessions with the board of selectmen, according to The Landmark. Kelly will receive a $140,000 annual salary. Salary increases will be merit-based and dependent upon annual evaluations by the selectmen. The contract does not stipulate for any floor or minimal amount, Kelly said. The town will also pay three percent of her salary into a deferred compensation plan, as town manager Nancy Galkowski has in her three-year contract, which runs until Jan. 31. Kelly will also have two weeks of vacation each year, in addition to the traditional benefits such as heath insurance and sick time. Kelly was named as acting town manager in September after Galkowski left on an extended medical leave. In July, Galkowski had informed selectmen that she did not wish to negotiate any further contract with the town. Kelly served as assistant town manager under previous town manager Brian Bullock and later, Galkowski. When Galkowski was hired as town manager by selectmen in 2009, Kelly was the board’s second choice. She has also worked in the planning department and for the Holden Municipal Light Department. Town boards, department heads and employees have been giving her tremendous support, Kelly said. Right now, the challenges she sees are mostly related to money.

Vadnais Heights, Minnesota (population 12,302): Kevin Watson of Junction City, Ore., has been selected to be Vadnais Heights city administrator, according to the MinnPost. He’ll replace Gerry Urban,  who worked for the city for 45 years, and held the top job for 35 years. The Pioneer Press had a long weekend piece on Urban, who has been the public face of Vadnais Heights for decades. He was a strong supporter, though, of the Sports Center deal that went awry last year. Vadnais officials say Watson has agreed to an offer and will start work March 4. Before taking the Junction City job, Watson was assistant to the city manager in Keizer Ore., and industrial redevelopment manager in Dallas, Ore., before that.

Trinidad, Colorado (population 9,096): Almost two years after controversy started with the Trinidad City Manager’s Position and nine months after the Trinidad City Council voted to dismiss the city manger, Tuesday the council approved by a 7-0 unanimous vote to hire Tom Acre as the new city manager, according to KRDO. The city had put in place two interim managers since May of 2012: former City Attorney Jared Beatty and retired First National Bank President Ralph Gagliardi. Acre had been acting as the Interim City Manager since the council appointed him in Dec. 2012. Trinidad Mayor Bernadette Baca-Gonzales was pleased with the council’s choice. The council before the vote went into executive session for almost an hour and half before coming out with the unanimous vote to hire Acre on a permanent basis. Acre will move into his permanent position immediately. Details of his contract still need to be hammered out, council expects the contract to be finalized soon.

Roanoke, Texas (population 5,962): “The Unique Dining Capital of Texas,” has a new city manager, according to The Keller Citizen. During a specially called city council meeting Jan. 29, Roanoke hired Scott Campbell, who has served for six years as town manager of Sunnyvale, a town of about 5,200 people in Dallas County, Campbell is replacing Jimmy Stathatos, Roanoke’s first and only city manager since the position was created in 1998. Stathatos was recently hired as city manager of Flower Mound. During his time in Roanoke, the city’s tax base grew from $99 million to more than $1.7 billion while its sales tax revenue increased to more than $10 million annually. Campbell officially will start on Feb. 18. His starting salary will be $175,000 annually. Campbell’s experience includes major public works and capital improvement project financing and construction. While in Sunnyvale, he oversaw significant residential and commercial growth to include more than $400 million in new town investments. Notable projects include the Texas Regional Medical Center at Sunnyvale, a 120,000-square-foot, full-service, physician-owned hospital; Marazzi Tile, a 300,000-square-foot expansion of an existing tile manufacturing plant that is the town’s second highest property tax payer; Millard Refrigeration, a new 400,000-square-foot refrigerated warehousing company; and Sunnyvale Centre, a major retail Master Planned Development. Roanoke Mayor Scooter Gierisch said much of Campbell’s experience is associated with long-term, comprehensive and strategic planning with cities poised for significant growth. Gierisch said council members evaluated numerous qualified applicants and selected Campbell based on his extensive experience, positive outlook and successful tenure in city management. Campbell received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 1994 from the University of North Texas. In 1996, he received a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Texas at Arlington, School of Urban and Public Affairs. Campbell began his career in 1994 as a part-time management intern with the city of Euless. He was later promoted to a full-time administrative assistant and then assistant to the city manager. From 1999 to 2004, Campbell served the city administrator of Ovilla, in Ellis County. From 2004-2006 he served as the community manager for the Lake Kiowa Property Owner’s Association in Cook County. Scott and his wife, Amber, have been married for 13 years and have two children, Nicholas, 11 and Lauren, 9.

Tisbury, Massachusetts (population 3,949): Following a four-month search, the Tisbury board of selectmen voted Tuesday to name John W. Grande of Framingham as town administrator, according to the Martha’s Vineyard Gazette. Mr. Grande currently serves as planning board director for the town of Framingham, an elected position he has held for 15 years. The announcement comes just days after selectmen held public interviews with three finalists for the job: Mr. Grande, state retirement board project manager Sally Rizzo and East Providence, R.I. city manager Peter Graczykowski. The vote to offer the job to Mr. Grande was unanimous, but followed 10 minutes of deliberation in which one of the selectmen voiced preference for another candidate. During his public interview Saturday, Mr. Grande told the selectmen he would need to give several weeks’ notice to his current employer before moving to the Vineyard. For that reason, selectman Jonathan Snyder said, he might prefer another candidate. Selectman Jeffrey Kristal said he preferred Mr. Grande’s town position versus the other candidates’ roles in the city and state. Chairman Tristan Israel said Mr. Grande stood out as a long-term planner capable of juggling multiple projects as well as different committees and departments. The split opinion mirrored a straw poll taken after public interviews Saturday, during which Mr. Israel and Mr. Kristal each cast votes for Mr. Grande, while Mr. Snyder voted for Mr. Graczykowski. Mr. Snyder, who began the deliberations Tuesday with an acknowledgement that he would be comfortable with any of the three candidates, then initiated a motion to vote for Mr. Grande. The motion seconded, the selectmen adjourned to executive session to discuss contract negotiations. Acting town administrator Aase Jones said she expected to formally offer Mr. Grande the position Wednesday morning.

Kimberly, Idaho (population 3,264): The city of Kimberly has hired a new city administrator/treasurer, filling several of the city’s staff openings, according to the Twin Falls Times-News. Larry Hall, former coordinator of Southern Idaho Rural Development, will now serve as the city administrator and treasurer, confirmed Councilman Jim Eisenhower. The Kimberly City Council is scheduled to confirm the hiring during its Tuesday night, Feb. 12, meeting. While Hall doesn’t have experience working as a city administrator, he has worked extensively with small towns while at Southern Idaho Rural Development, a creation of the Region IV Development Association that encourages economic development and diversification, Eisenhower said. The city’s administrator position saw two turnovers last year. The first was in April with the resignation of Polly Hulsey. Then, Nick Camberlango resigned on Dec. 20 just short of the end of his probationary period. Hall said he is looking forward to working with the city council and staff but recognizes that there might be challenges to taking on the new position. Now that the city has hired a city administrator, council and staff are debating hiring a new planning and zoning director.

Stanfield, Oregon (population 2,043): Stanfield City Manager Scott Pingel announced at City Council Tuesday he will take a city manager position in Dayton, Ore., according to the Hermiston HeraldPingel will serve his last day in his current position on Friday, March 8. He will start with the city of Dayton on March 11.

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