At a special meeting held on September 5, Trinidad City Councilmembers met to approve acceptance of resignation from former City Manager Greg Sund, who had been city manager starting May of 2017.
During the meeting, Mayor Phil Rico expressed he was disappointed with the hearsay going around town prior to the decision.
“It’s very discouraging and disruptive,” said the mayor. “There’s a lot of speculation going on in the community and all it does is create more speculation on what’s going on and I don’t agree with it. I had received word that someone had stated that Mr. Sund was either going to resign or be fired. That’s not true. That’s up to council and our negotiations and for someone to speculate that is wrong and believe whoever said that owes Greg Sund an apology. People should wait to the end to start asking questions and quit asking questions in between and making up their own ideas of what’s going on.”
Mayor Rico went on to state the city is supportive of his decision.
“We need to respect Mr. Sund’s decision,” said the Mayor. “I do, and I believe all of the council does. That being said, I wish Mr. Sund the best with whatever he and his family decides to do.”
The council unanimously decided to appoint Mike Valentine as interim city manager until a replacement can be found. Mr. Valentine accepted.
“I would accept the position as interim city manager,” said Valentine, “with the caveat that we have a good staff already. I will carry forward and keep the city going the best I can with your help and the staff that we have.”
Mayor Rico added that council should be aware of the load on his plate.
He’s not only taking on the responsibility of city manager but will still have the responsibility of what you do on a daily basis,” said Mayor Rico, “so we need to be respectful of that.”
In evaluating the direction to take in choosing a new city manager, a majority of the council felt it best to make use of outside services to look nationwide for a replacement with the proper knowledge of how to handle what Trinidad has become.
“This is not a Mickey Mouse operation,” said Councilmember Anthony Mattie, “it is a multi-million dollar operation and we need someone to steer the ship that has the qualifications and capabilities above and beyond institutional knowledge to keep things going. I think that our needs will be best served with a national search.”
While many councilmembers agreed that a national search was the best option, they also included that an internal search was also important.
“I would like to ask that in tandem with hiring a special firm and perhaps leaving that to the next council to decide, that we conduct an internal search as well,” said Councilmember Michelle Miles. “We should do this sooner than later.”
Councilmember Joe Bonato expressed concerns with hiring a national firm.
“To spend that kind of money on hiring a national firm to find a replacement is the wrong thing to do,” stated Bonato. “I feel that the current council has the ability and knowledge to pick out a resume for someone that can fill this position.”
Among other concerns were finding someone who would provide more longevity than past individuals in the city manager position. Councilmember Mattie expressed that, with societal shifts, it may be hard.
“People move. People change,” said Mattie, “Its not like people got out of high school and went to work in the mines and worked there for 25 years until they retired or got black lung and died. Those days are gone. My daughter graduated from college six years ago and she’s had more jobs in her short career than I’ve had in my lifetime, and it’s always upward mobility. That’s just the way it is. So to expect professionals to come in and remain forever is probably not going to happen. So what we have to do is get in step with what’s going on.”
Regardless of what happens going forward, councilmembers unanimously expressed they understood time was of the essence and would do their best to choose someone best suited to the job before them.
“We need to try to find the best possible prospect that we can find,” said Mayor Rico. “We owe that to the citizens of this community. I will do whatever I can and try to ask the right questions when it comes to it so that we can hopefully find the right person that has a broad vision of Trinidad, but also can look at the community and it’s finances and all we have going on. This is a massive project for anyone to take on.”