Resignations of Gorson, Holt and retirement of McMinn leave vacancies that won't be filled soon
(This story first appeared in the Feb. 28 Taft Midway Driller print edition)
Two top city officials have left since the start of 2011 and another staff member is leaving at the end of this month March 2.
The job vacancies aren't going to be filled any time soon, allowing the city to make some significant savings in a budget.
Public Works Director Craig Jones is the interim city manager after the resignation of Bob Gorson, Ed Whiting is interim chief of police after the retirement of Ken McMinn, and the city has already rehired a firm to work on grant writing.
Grants Administrator Lucille Holt is leaving the city effective March 2.
“We're kind of thinking 'Who's going to be next?” said Mayor Pro Tem Paul Linder.
He said the city certainly didn't plan for the three departures, but, facing a severe funding shortfall probably won't be filing any of the three openings before the middle of summer.
Whiting stepped up as interim chief when McMinn retired and the city will keep him there for the time being.
“He can stay there as long as he wants until we start the process of looking for a new chief. Then he'd certainly be welcome to apply,” Linder said.
Holt worked with the city's housing program and in the establishment of an enterprise zone. The city has already hired a grant firm that can step in to cover at lest part of Holt's position.
Jones, with support from other city staff, is going to be running the day-to-day operations for the city for the time being.
Hiring a new city manager s a lengthy process anyway, Linder said, and takes four to five months.
The city is also down a position in the police department after Sgt. Mike Eveland was forced to retire with a disability.
The council wants to avoid layoffs if at all possible, Linder said, so it isn't going to rush out and try to fill every vacancy immediately.
“There are a lot of things tugging at the budget right now,” said Linder.
The state's decision to close the Taft Community Correctional Facility is going to cost the city several hundred thousand dollars plus the cost of unemployment benefits for many of the four dozen employees laid off so the city is going to be strapped for money unless it can find another county or agency wiling to pay the city to house inmates.
“We're probably going to be running a little short everywhere,” Linder said. “We're not going to fill every position that opens up.”