Alexandria City Manager Jim Hartmann will resign to pursue other professional opportunities including the position of county manager in Seminole County, Fla., he said Monday.
Hartmann, a six-year city executive, said his resignation was a personal choice based on a desire for a more stimulating environment. He mulled the decision for months, he said, and agreed to stay until the scheduled adoption of the FY 2012 budget on May 2.
You dont make these decisions on a snap and I had to make sure the organization was at an appropriate place for a smooth transition, and I think it is, Hartmann said Monday during a phone interview. The team is solid.
Hartmann, 57, is the guiding force behind the citys budget and therefore a chief architect of Alexandrias economic, social and cultural landscape. Mayor Bill Euille said he is a hot commodity in the world of municipal managers and Alexandrias high-profile national success likely added to other jurisdictions pursuing Hartmann.
I wouldve preferred he stayed, sure, and Im sure hes been contacted over the past couple of years [about other jobs], Euille said. This is an opportunity for him.
Hartmann, admitted to frequently being sniped by executive headhunters looking to use his skills to improve cities around the country.
When hired six years ago, the city council charged Hartmann with fixing City Hall: Alexandrias poor image among business owners, an opaque budget process, lacking customer service and a public safety force that could use some work. He did what was asked of him, Euille said.
He has collaborated closely with council and city staff to build an outstanding management team; successfully guided the city through economic difficulties; increased government transparency; implemented organizational efficiencies, and improved customer service, Euille said. The legacy of his work is a strong government, focused on the future, that is more accountable, effective, and responsive to the needs of its community and residents.
Hartmann achieved a culture change, Euille said, and the city manager agreed.
When council hired me we sensed we were not held in favor with the business community, we did not have the customer service they wanted to have and those became really big pieces of the chain of command in the city, Hartmann said. Its all about how we treat people differently and how we engage the public that uses city services.
And indeed I think there are other communities that could use my skills to do just that for them. Organizational development is something thats very stimulating for me.
Seminole County covers 345 miles, compared with Alexandrias 15, and has a population of about 365,000 more than double Alexandrias.
Im sure he has some fire left and a desire to be in very challenging situations, Euille said. Hes not at retirement age. Its not that hes bored but the challenges become less as it becomes a routine job.