After five and half years of stewarding Grass Valley through an economic recession that saw more than $2 million washed from the city’s annual budget, Tuesday was Dan Holler’s last day as the city administrator.
“I’m going to miss Dan Holler,” said Mayor Dan Miller. “Hopefully, he will be able to land some place that appreciates his knowledge and experience.”
Holler reportedly resigned following an Aug. 28 employment evaluation by the Grass Valley City Council.
Miller noted that Holler helmed the city through some rough waters, lauding work that included getting the city’s employee groups to buy into a sales tax measure voters approved in November 2012, as well as working out delicate financial solutions to a state change in property tax revenues and the city’s largest capital project at Dorsey Drive off Highway 20/49.
While Holler won’t be around to see many of his accomplishments come to fruition, he said he wants an easy transition for the city.
“I’ve taken the city through a really difficult time. My hope is that the financial stability has come back,” Holler said. “I think they are looking for somebody with fresh eyes who isn’t locked into the financial perspective. A fresh set of eyes may be helpful for the city.”
Holler managed Douglas County, Nev., which abuts the southeastern end of Lake Tahoe and has about 41,000 residents, for 12 years before taking the Grass Valley job in February 2008.
When Holler came into office, the city had a $12.5 million budget. But as the housing market tanked and the car dealerships left Grass Valley, the city’s budget shrunk to $10.2 million, Holler noted.
“That was the big challenge,” he said. “Dealing with the financial structure and dealing with the downsize was the biggest challenge because it impacted so many things.”
Facing nearly a $1 million revenue shortfall during his first year, Holler set the pace of his tenure by declaring he would not accept a 5 percent or $7,000 raise he was eligible for if it was offered to him by the city council, according to The Union’s archives.
In the years that followed, Grass Valley laid off employees, left unstaffed positions vacant, implemented furloughs and paycuts and trimmed benefits in attempts to balance the budget. Every one of those measures had to be negotiated, with Holler sitting at the table.
Additionally, like all California cities, Grass Valley had to contend with the state’s winding down of redevelopment agencies.
Responding to a declared state of fiscal emergency, the state legislature enacted measures in the summer of 2011 to stabilize school funding by reducing or eliminating the diversion of property tax revenues from school districts to the state‘s community redevelopment agencies, according to the League of California Cities.
As part of Grass Valley’s weaning from the redevelopment agency, the city created a Successor Agency in January 2012 to manage its ongoing obligations.
“The winding down of the redevelopment (agencies) was a disappointment at the state level. But we handled it well,” Holler said. “It would have been nice to see that through. A lot of the heavy lifting is done.”
One project still benefiting from redevelopment funds is the nearly $24 million Dorsey Interchange project to add entrances and exits to Highway 20/49 at Dorsey Drive in Grass Valley.
This project, which has been described as the city’s most important capital works project, had struggled to get funding for decades, but finally garnered the necessary allocations and broke ground on Holler’s watch.
“I would love to come back for the grand opening of Dorsey Drive,” Holler said.
Last summer, city leaders proposed a 0.5 percent temporary sales tax hike to allow the city to hire police officers and firefighters, which voters overwhelmingly approved.
“He walked us through Measure N and did a lot of behind the scenes with police and firefighters to get them on board,” Miller said. “He worked a lot to get Measure N passed, which for the city was huge.”
Measure N’s first revenues came in this summer and is estimated to bring in more than $2 million in the first year, giving the city the breathing room it has lacked for five years.
“I was pleased to see Measure N pass. It has been fun to see that in place,” Holler said. “It is just starting and it would be fun to see that develop further, but I think it is headed in the right direction.”
Holler also pointed to progress on the Loma Rica Ranch annexation and percolating development; the La Barr Meadows annexation and potential development; pushing the owners of the Newmont Mine to agree to build a water treatment plant; and a more cooperative environment between neighboring governmental agencies as other highlights of his tenure as Grass Valley’s administrator.
“It was Dan who worked closely with (Grass Valley) Chamber (of Commerce) to put together the financing package and partnership for the Visitor’s Center,” Miller said.
Outside of governance, Holler is also active in Twin Cities Church, having participating in benefits and mission trips.
“I thoroughly enjoy the community. The events, the hometown feel, it all makes this a truly enjoyable place to work,” Holler said.
“I have enjoyed the relationships with people in town. If I don’t end up staying in this region, I will miss it.”
With city officials have pointed to a closed-door meeting Wednesday to determine who will act as interim city administrator, Holler would not specify what immediate job opportunities he is pursuing.
“I don’t have anything officially lined up. There are a couple irons in the fire,” Holler said.
“I have a potential opportunity on the private (sector) side, but my passion has been in the public sector.”
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
“I thoroughly enjoy the community. … I have enjoyed the relationships with people in town. If I don’t end up staying in this region, I will miss it.”
Outgoing Grass Valley City Administrator