Colfax city manager stepping down
Colfax City Council members and City Manager Joan Phillipe have reached a mutual agreement not to renew her contract.
The decision was announced July 28 following a closed session of the council meeting.
Former Placer County Supervisor Bruce Kranz is stepping in as interim city manager, based on a vote by council members.
Phillipe was hired in September 2006 under a three-year contract that would have expired Sept. 15. Under the contract, she was guaranteed a salary of $92,000 per year.
The council decided in March not to renew the terms as written and subsequently appointed a council sub-committee to negotiate a new contract.
In recent weeks, council members had discussed pay reductions for Phillipe and other city employees as one of several options for closing an approximately $200,000 gap in the city’s 2009-10 fiscal year budget.
Kranz will receive $75,000 a year for the interim position.
A resident of Loomis, Phillipe will briefly remain at City Hall to tie up a few loose ends.
“We want to have a smooth transition between Bruce and myself,” Phillipe said. “I’ve been mentoring him, transferring information to him and so on. (After that) I’ll still be available for questions or in any way I can assist.”
Phillipe said she has not yet finalized her own future plans.
Prior to accepting the position in Colfax, Phillipe was city manager of Colusa for 3-1/2 years. She was executive director of the California State Sheriff’s Association from 1997 to 2002 and, before that, Loomis’ city manager for 10 years.
Council members said parting ways with Phillipe was a difficult decision.
“I truly admire and respect Joan,” Mayor Suzanne Roberts said. “I think we need to move forward in a positive way.”
“She has done one heck of a job, especially in the area of wastewater treatment,” Councilman Ken Delfino said. “This was a tough decision, but we came to a mutual agreement.”
In the meantime, council members are looking at potential candidates to fill the permanent position – a pool that will likely include Kranz.
“His resume is pretty impressive,” Delfino said. “He has political experience. He’s also a partner in a small business…and he wants to see positive things for Colfax.”
Kranz, a Weimar resident, served on the Placer County Board of Supervisors from 2004 to 2008. Before retiring, he spent 33 years as a superintendent for state parks, where he managed the Auburn and Folsom Lake state recreation areas.
“I had 200 employees and a budget of $4.5 million to $5 million,” Kranz said on Monday. “We had water treatment plants, public safety, law enforcement, maintenance and a large staff. It was almost identical (to the city manager position), but on a much larger scale.”
Kranz said his experience, close proximity and, as a retiree, lower-than-typical salary requirements factored into the decision.
“I had talked to (acquaintance and Colfax council member) Josh Alpine and said to keep me in mind if they ever had an opening,” he said. “When they asked if I’d be interested, I said, ‘Where do I sign? It seemed like a natural fit.”
Kranz said he has since met with four of five council members to discuss city priorities, which include seeking more time to comply with a state cease and desist order for the wastewater treatment plant, going after federal stimulus funds, improving tourism by capitalizing on the city’s railroad history and reviving the local business community, by possibly reopening the theater and exploring options for the vacant hotel.
But first the city must tackle its budget.
“The budget has been a significant problem, and the governor just cut into it,” Kranz said. “We already have a very small workforce and it’s going to get smaller. We have to cut a significant percentage of our operating budget. I’ve met with six of the 10 full-time employees and they understand it’s going to be tough.”
This isn’t the first time Kranz has thrown his hat into the race to helm a city. He was one of the final three candidates in the selection process for Folsom’s city manager 15 years ago, but lost the top position to Michael Frost, former chief of staff of then-California Governor George Deukmejian.
The Colfax City Council will meet Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 7 p.m. at Sierra Vista Community Center instead of at the Railroad Depot.
~ Gloria Beverage contributed to this story.