Less than a month after his sudden resignation as the city administrator of Grass Valley, Dan Holler has accepted a position as interim town manager in Mammoth Lakes, he told The Union Wednesday.
“I was pleasantly surprised and honored by the phone call,” Holler said. “The fit is very good in terms of the work I’ve done on a variety of issues in a tourism-based town.”
Holler, who had been Grass Valley’s city administrator for five years — and beat out three other prospective candidates for the Mammoth position — resigned unexpectedly in late August following a closed-door employment evaluation by the Grass Valley City Council.
And he isn’t the only one to resign recently. Former Mammoth Town Manager Marianna Marysheva-Martinez resigned her position Sept. 2 following three closed-door evaluations of her position, reported the Mammoth Times newspaper. In articles surrounding that resignation, Mammoth Times Managing Editor George Shirk describes a town council butting heads with its manager.
Marysheva-Martinez helped Mammoth through several financial crisis, or as Shirk reported, through a “perilous march toward the brink of municipal bankruptcy,” including the resolution of the town’s prominent legal struggles with Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition and the Ballas Entities group, eventually leading to a $29.5 million settlement over 23 years.
Also, like Grass Valley’s vacant fire chief, finance director and police captain positions, Mammoth is looking to hire a public works director, airport manager and building inspector, Shirk reported.
“They have some vacant positions to go through,” Holler said, noting his experience of hiring.
“You look at the town; there are some opportunities and challenges that will be invigorating to help tackle,” Holler said.
No stranger to tackling challenges, Holler helmed Grass Valley through the economic recession when the city lost $2 million in annual revenue, which prompted a number of tough decisions, including employee layoffs, vacant positions left unstaffed, furloughs and paycuts and trimmed benefits.
Even out of office Holler hasn’t shied away from challenges in the short time since his resignation. As Grass Valley has worked toward finding his replacement, Holler has teamed with Keith Logan, a sustainability consultant, to craft a new model public access broadcasting organization in the wake of the Nevada County Digital Media Center’s board of director’s announcement that the station would close by mid-October.
“It’ll continue,” said Holler of his involvement in saving Nevada County Television (NCTV) while working in Mammoth.
“I won’t be as hands-on, but I will continue to assist in the transition over to the new organization.”
Holler disclosed his volunteer commitment to NCTV when accepting the Mammoth job and said it will not interfere with his acting city manager responsibilities.
“We have a path forward ready to go and people are excited about, including the current board members,” Holler said.
Holler started his government career in 1988 with the city of Glendora. He also worked for the city of West Covina in the finance department for six years before transitioning to Douglas County, Nevada, as the budget/fiscal officer and county manager.
Though Grass Valley and its more than 12,800 residents is larger than Mammoth’s less than 8,300 residents, the latter has a larger municipal budget, Holler said.
Mammoth Lakes projects a more than $18 million general fund budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year, while Grass Valley has around $12 million in its general fund, supplemented with a tax increase.
“Its very similar to what Grass Valley has with the exception of its fire district,” Holler said. “It looks like they are coming out of the recession. So hopefully they are on an uptick, hopefully as Southern California rebounds, we will see a bump in their tourism.”
Another notable difference between the two governments is that Holler will be an interim town manager after being an administrator for the last five years. The difference between a manager and an administrator is that the former has more executive powers.
“I think it is stronger system for city management,” Holler said. “It also gives the council a single point of contact.”
Holler will start in Mammoth Lakes Tuesday, he said, when he is formally welcomed to the fold in an open town council meeting.
He plans to retain his Grass Valley home, where his wife works, and commute home on weekends, he said, when there isn’t fresh powder on the ski slopes. He expects that his interim position could last as long as six months, perhaps longer.
“It all depends on laying out a process that their city council wants to go through,” Holler said.
“They have a few things they want take care of right off the bat … It’s not just a caretaker position, it is a working city manager job.”
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.