The face of city management is about to change.
In an address to the city council on January 14, Gary Tomsic announced his retirement from his position as city manager. His departure will be effective June 30 and marks the end of a 13-year tenure with the city of Blaine. “The announcement of my retirement is no surprise to the council,” Tomsic said, addressing the audience. “We’ve been discussing this for awhile.”
Tomsic asked permission to read his letter of retirement to the council before returning to his seat to a round of applause from those present in the council chambers. “I’m not sure how to take that,” he said with a laugh.
Tomsic was hired in June 2000 after four months as interim city manager, despite his reluctance to come on staff full time, and in that time he has done much to change the way the city of Blaine operates. As city manager, Tomsic is the chief executive officer for the city of Blaine and is responsible for the hiring and firing of city employees. He also works closely with the city council and department heads. “They do the policy stuff,” he said. “I do everything else.”
Tomsic has known for close to a year that he would be stepping down from his post. Originally, his plans were to retire at the end of 2012, but with the city’s financial situation he thought it best to stick around and extend his retirement by six months.
“I think he’s done a phenomenal job and he’ll be sorely missed,” mayor Harry Robinson said. “He had the expertise and knowledge, and we’ll have a tough time replacing him.”
The city council will decide how best to go about selecting Tomsic’s replacement at their January 28 meeting.
Tomsic recommended an executive search firm be selected to begin headhunting for their next city manager, but council member Clark Cotner had objections. “I’d just like to discuss it first,” he said when questioned about his hesitancy. A lengthy discussion on the pros and cons of hiring an executive search firm followed before the council agreed to table the discussion until the next meeting.
Tomsic reminded council that the length and intricacies of the hiring process can be difficult for small cities, and that they should seriously consider the hiring firm as an option.
“It’s better when you don’t have the internal resources to handle it. It can take four months or more to hire someone [with an outside firm], and if you’re doing it internally, it might take even longer,” he said. “The biggest challenge is going to be finding someone who will be able to work well with the community and who the staff and city council feel comfortable working with. It’s tricky.”
Tomsic will not be part of the hiring process.
“He’s made his decision and now we’re stuck finding the best candidate we can,” Robinson said. “He’s an excellent city manager and he’s done a lot in the 13 years he’s been here.”