City official says Sept. 11 sped up retirement plans
For the next few months, Nevada City’s City Council will have one major task – interviewing and hiring a new city manager.
Beryl Robinson, Nevada City’s city manager for 361/2 years – and California’s longest-tenured head city administrator – announced his resignation Monday, effective April 30.
“They’re mighty big shoes to fill,” said Mayor Kerry Arnett, who read Robinson’s resignation letter at the end of the 31/2 hour City Council meeting. “Beryl is a remarkable person, and I have learned a great deal from him.”
Robinson, who was born at the city’s long-gone sanitarium downtown, said he decided to retire over the holidays.
“If not now, when?” asked Robinson at his desk on the second floor at City Hall Tuesday.
Robinson had considered working for 40 years, but the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks changed all that, he said.
“I think it’s safe to say that the issues of Sept. 11 caused everyone to reflect on everyone’s lives,” Robinson said.
He and his wife are in excellent health, said Robinson, 66, who has not had a sick day since 1977. But that may change a year from now, he added.
“I just thought there are some things that I want to do,” he said. For instance, he and his wife, Betty, would like to travel.
With only 25 employees, the city, which runs on a budget of $3.9 million a year, is very short staffed.
Taking off is not easy. “If I leave the work sits,” Robinson said.
Robinson, who usually goes on vacation to attend the annual national city managers’ conference, said he also would like to spend more time on his coin collection. He will continue to participate in the city’s civic organizations, he said.
Robinson chose to retire April 30 in part to give his successor the opportunity to work on the city’s budget for the next fiscal year. The City Council reviews the budget in July.
Keeping a city’s finances strong is always a city manager’s concern, Robinson said.
City Clerk Cathy Wilcox-Barnes, who has worked with Robinson for 22 years, mostly as city clerk, declined to say if she will apply for the position.
Robinson will be very difficult to replace, said Wilcox-Barnes, who praised his fiscal skills, political and historical knowledge, and vision for the city.
“(Robinson) is the original multi-tasker,” she said. “He handles 15 things at once.”
Robinson, whom she considers a mentor, redefined the city clerk position by giving her more responsibilities, Wilcox-Barnes said.
City Councilman Pat Dyer said Robinson’s successor will have to protect the city’s historical heritage and continue to operate the city without adding staff.
Arnett said the search for a new city manager will be discussed at the next council meeting. “We will hire the most qualified individual,” he said.
In the meantime, the city’s daily business will continue as usual, Arnett predicted.
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