Municipal leaders in Grass Valley said City Administrator Dan Holler’s resignation, stemming from an employee evaluation, was not announced for two days because no formal action was taken by the city council on the matter.
The agenda for the council’s Tuesday meeting shows that a behind-closed-doors evaluation of Holler was scheduled — a meeting Holler said he did not attend. When council reconvened for the public portion of its meeting that evening, Mayor Dan Miller reported no action was taken in the closed session.
Resignations, terminations or hires are required to be reported under the Brown Act at the ensuing public meeting.
“Council did not reconvene (in closed session after the public meeting) and did not do anything other than agree on an evaluation,” said City Attorney Michael Colantuono.
It wasn’t until after the public portion of Tuesday’s meeting that Holler was summoned to a meeting with Colantuono and Miller, where he was informed of the council’s evaluation, Miller said.
“There is a desire by the city council to move in a direction for which Holler sees himself as not being the best fit for the city,” officials said in a Thursday morning press release announcing Holler’s resignation.
However, Miller said Thursday that Holler was not told of any future council directions, only informed of the evaluation.
“I frankly believe that I am not the right fit with the direction they want to go,” Holler said. “It would be nice for someone new to look at how to move forward.”
In Grass Valley, the city administrator is hired by the city council and acts as the chief officer who manages the day-to-day business of the municipality, leaving the mayor’s role as a largely symbolic one beyond officiating the council’s meetings and agendas.
Whereas the city’s charter indicates that an employment termination would require at least four council members’ approval and necessitate a disclosure of the action to the public, an employee evaluation falls under the protection of personnel matters exempted from Brown Act disclosure laws, Colantuono and Miller said.
“There was not a formal vote,” Holler said.
“I don’t wish them any ill will or anything,” Holler added. “It’s part of the business.”
Both Holler and Miller said that no malfeasance, wrongdoing or otherwise illegal activities have occurred to factor in the leadership change.
Holler’s last day will be Sept. 3. Tim Kiser, the director of Public Works, will act as administrator until an interim city administrator is hired to oversee the recruitment of a permanent replacement for Holler.
The city has reportedly eyed former Yuba City Manager Jeff Foltz to serve as the interim leader, Miller said. However, those negotiations are ongoing. Calls to Foltz were not returned as of press time.
Prior to Holler’s 2008 hiring, Foltz served as Grass Valley’s interim administrator after Gene Haroldsen was fired by the council in February 2007 after 15 years in that position. In Haroldsen’s ouster, the city cited differences over the direction of the city’s future, according to The Union’s archives.
Coinciding with Holler’s resignation are the vacancies of the city’s fire department chief and its finance director, a position that became vacant when Roberta Raper accepted a position in Napa County, Miller said.
“She’s terrific. We’re very sorry to be losing her,” said Councilwoman Lisa Swarthout. “But she got a good offer for a good job.”
The three vacancies present an opportunity for a new administrator to build his or her own staff, Holler said.
“It’s unexpected, considering the key position vacancies we have right now,” Miller said. “To have another was unexpected.”
Despite the term lengths of Grass Valley’s most recent administrators, Holler said the average tenure of a municipal executive is only about three to four years.
“Would I have moved on next week? Not necessarily,” Holler said. “But I think managers have a shelf life .… you need new blood and that isn’t a bad thing. At some point, you have to move on.”
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
“I frankly believe that I am not the right fit with the direction they want to go,”
Grass Valley city administrator