By William C. Singleton III
Vestavia Hills city officials hope to have a new city manager in the next two to three months.
“We have talked about two different ways. One is to look at a consulting firm. The other is to do the search ourselves,” Zaragoza said. “Right now, we’re leaning toward doing the search ourselves.”
Former City Manager Randy Robertson abruptly resigned March 18, citing a desire for him and his wife to be with her father-in-law who is gravely ill. Robertson’s father-in-law lives in Louisville, Ky.
However, city officials admitted that Robertson had a less-than-stellar job performance evaluation and decided to leave.
The city agreed to pay Robertson about $152,925 in a settlement for resigning. Robertson stood to make about $160,000 annually.
Robertson was hired by the city in September 2011 to ultimately become the chief executive officer for Vestavia Hills. Though he was hired then, Robertson didn’t officially become the city manager until Nov. 4, when Vestavia Hills changed from a council-mayor form of government to a council-manager form of government.
He served four months before his resignation last month.
In his official statement, Robertson said family reasons were behind his decision to leave his post in Vestavia Hills.
“All of you know that Darlene and I served with the United States Army for a majority of our adult life, and as such, was (sic) separated from our families for extended periods of time,” Robertson said in his resignation letter. “While we cannot recapture that time, we can do the best with what we have. Again I sincerely regret this action, but at this point in our lives, family comes first.”
Zaragoza said city officials are still committed to the council-manager form of government.
The city has appointed Fire Chief Jim St. John to serve as interim city manager until Robertson’s replacement is found.
St. John, who has been Vestavia Hills’ fire chief for five years, said he was glad to have the opportunity to step in and help the city.
But the 25-year veteran firefighter said he has no plans to seek the position of city manager on a permanent basis.
“I’m humbled by the chance to serve the city in another capacity, but firefighting is my passion and that’s what I’ll do again once the city finds a new permanent city manager,” he said.
In his quarter century of service, St. John has served as a firefighter, company officer and battalion chief.
He said he is splitting his time between duties in the fire department and as the city’s interim city manager.
“In the city manager’s role, my main goal is to make sure that everyone has the manpower, equipment and everything they need to deliver services to the residents of Vestavia Hills,” he said.
While St. John spends time making sure city services are running smoothly, his duties as fire chief have been spread out to other employees in the department, he said.
“The deputy chief is now doing things that I did previously, and we’ve tried to spread the work around. Our people have a big workload on them, but they are stepping up to the plate and doing everything they can to help. This is really a citywide team effort,” he said.
St. John lives in the Green Valley area of Hoover with his wife of 21 years, Nancy. The couple has two daughters, the oldest of which will graduate from Hoover High School in May.