Transitions: Visalia, CA; Floyd County, GA; Janesville, WI and more

Visalia, California (population 126,432): The Visalia City Council selected Assistant City Manager Mike Olmos to replace current City Manager Steve Salomon who retires in the fall, according to The Business Journal. Olmos was appointed to assistant city manager in 2005 after first serving Visalia as city planner, development services director and then head of the public works department. Before that, he worked for both the City of Reedley, where he was the first community development director and later assistant city manager, and for the City of City of Tulare as its planning and building director. Bypassing a costly nationwide search, the Visalia City Council chose Olmos on the basis of his experience and familiarity with the inner workings of the city. Olmos will make an annual salary of $175,000 when he takes the helm as city manager in the fall and a total compensation of $212,534. Olmos, who has a bachelor’s degree in economics, had been making $149,984 a year as assistant city manager. Steve Salomon has served as Visalia city manager and executive director of the city’s redevelopment agency since 1996.

Floyd County, Georgia (population 95,989): Jamie McCord will make a base salary of $120,000 when he begins his new job of Floyd County manager next week, according to the Rome News-Tribune. It’s more than the base salaries of both his predecessors — Blaine Williams and Kevin Poe — and he’ll be the top earner when the three men’s benefits are considered. Poe, who served Floyd County for 17 years, left in December 2011. His base salary was $105,918.76. He received an additional $7,416 a year for a vehicle allowance. His deferred compensation totaled $4,500 a year, and his longevity pay was $4,337.56 a year. That amounted to a total package of $122,172.32. Poe now serves as the Jackson County manager in northeast Georgia. His base salary there is $140,000. Williams, who was county manager in 2012, had a base salary of $98,580. He got an additional $6,000 a year for a vehicle allowance, another $780 each year for a phone allowance and $7,420 paid into his deferred compensation. That totaled $112,780, Williams’ employment agreement states. Williams, now an assistant manager for Athens-Clarke County, has a base salary of $109,000. McCord makes $96,000 as Rome’s public works director. He will begin his new position as county manager May 15 at a base salary of $120,000. He has no vehicle or phone allowance, but instead has those provided to him by the county. According to the employment agreement, McCord can use the vehicle while at work. He also has use of the vehicle when traveling to an event immediately after the workday or if he’s at a function before driving to work. The county has credited McCord 268 hours of vacation time and 1,100 hours’ sick leave. McCord said he accrued the time with the city, and the county credited him the leave so he wouldn’t lose it when he accepted the new position. Additionally, the county will pay $9,000 — 7.5 percent of his salary — into McCord’s deferred compensation each year. That brings his total compensation to $129,000.

Janesville, Wisconsin (population 63,479): Eric Levitt reported to Janesville as its new city manager Dec. 16, 2008, according to The Janesville Gazette. One week later, General Motors, the city’s largest and most-storied employer, ended production of full-size sport utility vehicles here. Levitt had applied for the city manager job months earlier and saw Janesville as a stable community. But General Motors’ financial situation deteriorated over the hiring process. Janesville has since struggled with a crippled local economy aggravated by a national recession. Many people interviewed said Levitt steered Janesville through turbulent times in his quiet, unassuming way. Levitt said the community suffered an identify crisis that created a “huge” feeling of uncertainty. Levitt spoke before leaving for his new job as city manager in Simi Valley, Calif. May 7th was Levitt’s last day as Janesville city manger, and Jay Winzenz will be interim city manager while the city council searches for Levitt’s replacement. Levitt became the first city manager under a council-manager form of government to work here without General Motors. His challenges didn’t end there. Within a month, Levitt and his staff hustled to master complicated federal formulas to capture as much federal stimulus money as possible. In 2010, Levitt dealt with local fallout from Act 10, the game-changing state legislation that abolished collective bargaining for most public employee unions. The chief of police and the public works director both quit during Levitt’s first two meetings on his first day of work. Levitt’s style was different than his predecessor, longtime City Manager Steve Sheiffer. Sheiffer was high profile and used a heavy hand in directing the city’s vision. He accomplished much in 21 years, but by the time he left, some complained about a lack of accessibility and transparency. People repeatedly praised Levitt for his accessibility.

Fridley, Minnesota (population 27,398): The Fridley City Council voted unanimously to select Walter (Wally) Wysopal as the next city manager, according to the Sun Focus. The position opened after former city manager Bill Burns retired Dec. 31. Pending agreement on contract terms, Wysopal is expected to begin around mid-June. A special meeting of the City Council will be held April 30 to finalize and approve the contract. Wysopal has been the city manager for North St. Paul since 1998. Before that, he was assistant city manager of St. Louis Park from 1993 to 1998, assistant to city manager/personnel officer from 1988 to 1993 and public works administrative assistant from 1986 to 1988. He also worked for Northfield, Ill., as the assistant to village manager from 1983 to 1986. When Wysopal was 15, he ran the softball league for the village of North Riverside, Ill., where he grew up. He and his brothers wanted to play softball, and the village didn’t offer a recreational softball program, so they started one. Wysopal has a bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s University and a master’s degree in public administration from Northern Illinois University. He and his family have lived in Fridley for six years. They lived in St. Anthony for 18 years, he said, and as their family got bigger with five children, their house became too small. When they looked for a house, they found one they liked in Fridley. For high school, his kids attend Totino-Grace, where his wife graduated. Wysopal has been working in North St. Paul and enjoying his job. But when Bill Burns announced his retirement, he said he thought about it and decided to apply. After living in Fridley for six years, he said he’s learned to love the community. Wysopal said he was interested in the position in Fridley because opportunities for city managers don’t come up often. The city manager operates the day-to-day business of the city, with several department heads reporting to the city manager. He said Fridley is facing issues he’s familiar with, such as Local Government Aid, housing and redevelopment. Wysopal will also serve as a partner with the City Council, and one of his first goals is to help the council clearly identify their objectives so he can work toward them.

Manassas Park, Virginia (population 15,332): Manassas Park City Manager James W. (Jim) Zumwalt announces that, after two and a half years in the top job, he has decided to join his wife, May Louise, in retirement at the end of the City’s fiscal year, June 30, 2013, according to the city’s web site. Jim Zumwalt was appointed Manassas Park City Manager in January 2011. Before coming to Virginia, Zumwalt served for 12 years as city manager in Paducah, Kentucky. He was recently recognized by the International City/County Management Association for his 40 years of local government service. That experience includes public administrative positions with county governments in South Carolina, Alabama and Virginia, and the cities of Boca Raton (FL) and Kingsport (TN).

St. Joseph, Michigan (population 8,372): It’s farewell to Frank Walsh, according to WSBT. May 6 was the last day for the longtime St. Joseph City manager. Walsh was hired in 1996 and is retiring to take a position in Meridian Township near East Lansing to be closer to his aging parents. Over his 17-year tenure, Walsh says he’s most proud of all the new facilities they built, mainly with cash, such as the John and Dedee Howard Ice Rink, the skateboard park, the Howard Path and the new fire station. Walsh says he’ll miss his staff and the beauty of the city the most. Walsh says there are a few things he didn’t get done, like installing new lighting downtown and fixing up city parking lots. A reception for Walsh was scheduled for May 6 at City Hall. The commission interviewed three finalists for the city manager’s position on May 11.

Elgin, Texas (population 8,262): In September 2010 Gregory Vick became Elgin’s City Manager. He came to Elgin with the complete understanding that his time would be limited here. He leaves on Friday, May 10. What a whirlwind of events have taken place in that short time. A number of achievements have been accomplished in the last 2 ½ years that will benefit the community for years to come. In the area of cost controls garbage rates have been lowered since January of 2011; a tax rate reduction of two and one-half cents has been made for the last two years; our wastewater collection and treatment system has been purchased from LCRA, resulting in a freeze of our wastewater rates for the last two fiscal years and there has been a two year freeze on water rates. There have been other achievements as well. The settlement of the Aqua lawsuit against the city allowed the city to move forward with the Walmart project. The adoption of the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) with Bastrop County in the southwest portion of the city created a funding method for the 11th Street (Lee Dildy Blvd.) and Saratoga Farms Blvd. connection between Walmart and HEB. Improvements have been made to development standards. The City acquired the Union Pacific property around and including Veterans Memorial Park. The Public Works operations have been moved from Downtown to the Elgin Business Park. Vick has maintained a high level of respect as a result of his energetic and positive approach to the business of making Elgin a better place. He enjoys a good reputation both within the work place and the entire community.He will now be city manager with the city of Watauga that is very near his home in North Richland Hills. Watauga is a city of between 23,000 and 24,000.

Harrisburg, Oregon (population 3,613): Bruce Cleeton’s tie featuring a golf motif is a pretty good indicator of what he plans to do more of in retirement, according to the Albany Democrat-Herald. The city administrator for the city of Harrisburg since 1999, Cleeton, 63, will hand over the keys to City Hall to his successor, Brian Latta at the end of the month. His wife, Judy, is the city manager of nearby Halsey and will also retire this summer. Both are excited to be able to spend more time in the Portland area with their three grandchildren, ages 18 months to six years. In fact, they are probably going to move from their home overlooking the Diamond Woods Golf Course to be closer to them. Cleeton grew up in Scappose, Portland and Eugene, graduating from South Eugene High in 1968 and earning a degree in political science from the University of Oregon in 1972. He already had an interest in city administration and earned a law degree from Lewis and Clark College in 1975. He had a private practice in the Beaverton area for eight years, with an emphasis on government issues, “but practicing law just wasn’t my cup of tea.” He jumped at the chance to become a code enforcement official for the city of Beaverton — population 90,000 — a job he enjoyed for 15 years. But when he and Judy’s two children – Cameron and Rebecca — were grown, and the Harrisburg job opened up, they decided it was time for him to fulfill his long-time goal of running a city. Bruce and Judy met at a Junior Achievement seminar as seniors in high school — she’s a North Eugene High grad — and married in 1971. She has a degree in personnel management and spent several years managing trucking companies in the Portland area. Shortly after Bruce took the job in Harrisburg, Judy took the city recorder’s job in Halsey. Cleeton said his goal has been “to take one thing at a time. I look back and it’s amazing how much change there has been in the community.” Among the accomplishments during his tenure was securing a new City Hall without incurring debt by putting aside money over several years; developing a highly successful summer concert series and outdoor movies. Cleeton said watching a little girl standing on her father’s toes and dancing is a lasting memory of how the concert series brings families and the community together. Cleeton said that at one point, Harrisburg was one of the fastest growing communities in Linn County. Cleeton admits his biggest frustration as boss is the inability to remove an estimated 1,000 truck loads of rock that washed ashore seven years ago and made the city’s boat ramp virtually impossible to access. The new city manager will also have to deal with the city’s well water issues. Currently, there are five wells, but three years ago, the city got permission to start drawing water from the Willamette River. The catch, developing a new water system will cost millions of dollars. Perhaps Cleeton should consider part-time work in journalism as his third career. For many years he has posted a Friday e-mail community bulletin. It’s a mix of background information about city council doings, community events, and humor, much like the rural correspondents of Midwestern newspapers of the past. His most recent post including information about the overturning of a Planning Commission decision, a new business coming to town, a $5,000 donation for the public library, upcoming circus dates and a reminder to honor mothers on Mother’s Day.

Munising, Michigan (population 2,329): After a decade of municipal service, Munising City Manager Doug Bovin recently announced he will retire, according to The Mining Journal. The city commission is beginning its work to find a replacement. Bovin, 68, has been city manager since June 2003. From 1998 to 2003, he served two terms as state representative for the 108th District, living in Gladstone. Bovin said he’s decided to retire now for a variety of reasons, including family. Bovin said he’s eyeing a fall retirement date to allow some time to complete ongoing projects, budget negotiations and work with whomever becomes the city manager to help make the transition as smooth as possible. Bovin said the city commission had a recent presentation from the Michigan Municipal League on the service it offers to locate city manager candidates. The commission has not decided yet how it will pursue the search, whether through the league or by other means. Bovin said some of the highlights of his tenure on the job have included creating “an attitude of progress,” working with great people and committees and improving the city’s infrastructure. In addition to an upgraded sewer system and many recently improved streets, the city now has new police and fire facilities and a new location for city hall.

Kingsley, Michigan (population 1,503): Kingsley’s village manager of six years left the job to be closer to home, according to the Traverse City Record-Eagle. Adam Umbrasas recently took a job as village manager of downstate Three Oaks, where he spent most of his weekends with family, said Kingsley Village Clerk Karen Send. Mitchell Foster, a Michigander who is graduating with a master’s degree in public administration from a college in Reno, Nev., will replace Umbrasas. He starts May 28. Umbrasas started in Kingsley straight out of college. Among his accomplishments were sewer and water main upgrades, street maintenance, oversight of the library, and upgrades to Brownson Memorial Park. He wanted visitors to take advantage of Kingsley’s resources, and assisted in creating the village’s website and social media presence. There are no major projects slated for this summer. Umbrasas thought it was a good time for a new manager to take over, Send said. She referred to Umbrasas as “hands-on.” He was known to jump in a pit when a water main broke. Staffers are confident Foster can meet the public’s needs.