In a surprise announcement during staff comments at the March 19 City Council meeting, City Manager Eugene Palazzo announced his resignation, effective April 2. The chief executive is on vacation through that time.
“I am proud of my accomplishments during my tenure and especially proud of my executive team that I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the last three years,” Palazzo read from his prepared statement at the meeting. “I’m proud of their achievements and quality of service they provide this community. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life and will assist in a smooth transition.”
His statement did not give a reason for the chief executive’s departure.
After Palazzo read his statement, council members thanked him in turn for his service and wished him well.
“Good luck to Mr. Palazzo in his future,” Vice Mayor Shawn Farmer said. “I’m sure he’ll land somewhere that’s in need of his services.”
Palazzo has been with the city for just over three years, coming to Galt after serving as city manager in Crescent City for four years.
“Palazzo assembled a strong executive team and has played a major role in the city’s completion of the recent Industrial and Eastview annexations and a long-range financial plan, as well as visioning for revitalization of the Galt Market property,” a recent press release from the city read, officially announcing his resignation.
The press release also credited Palazzo with guiding the city through employee contract negotiations and establishing the recently increased solid waste fees.
Last year, all city employee position compensations were evaluated and brought to within 5 percent of the median pay based on a study of 12 cities; in addition, city employees all received 3 percent raises last July and stand to receive another 3 percent increase this July.
Solid waste fees have been raised approximately $13 a month per household.
Since his start in Galt, Palazzo has seen almost every department director leave, as well as the departure of the city attorney. Palazzo immediately brought in a new finance director, Emily Boyd, to replace retiring director Inez Kiriu. Boyd worked with Palazzo in Crescent City.
Boyd resigned unexpectedly last July for “personal reasons”. Palazzo then hired Claire Tyson in October 2018 to fill the chief financial role.
Palazzo hired Galt Police Chief Tod Sockman shortly after arriving in Galt. Chief Bill Bowen had previously retired and Dan Drummond was interim at the time Palazzo came on board.
Community Development Director Tony Stewart left the city a few short months after Palazzo began. Like Palazzo and Boyd, Stewart left unexpectedly and without explaining the reason for his departure.
Chris Erias, who worked in the Community Development Department, was promoted by Palazzo and has been serving in that position since Stewart left.
Human Resource Director Paula Islas left the city in February 2017. Palazzo then hired Cora L. Hall to fill that seat in May 2017.
City Attorney Steven Rudolph also left Galt in February 2017. The city has not hired a new fulltime attorney, choosing Kimberly Hood of Best, Best and Krieger, to serve as interim.
Public Works Director Steve Winkler retired at the end of 2018, and Palazzo hired Michael Selling, who is completing his first month with Galt.
Parks and Recreation Director Armando Solis is the only director who has remained consistent throughout Palazzo’s management.
Like many city managers, Palazzo has faced challenges during his tenure; however, the last year was plagued with problems, including a data breech at the police department, which has yet to be resolved; a 300,000-gallon sewage spill, which was not communicated to the public; a “misrepresented budget” that left council members believing there was $4.4 million available in the general fund; and four black marks on the most recent audit report, which included eight months of un-reconciled bank statements.
Palazzo’s resignation came after a nine-hour strategic planning session on Friday, March 8, that included all council members, along with department directors and other key staff members. Immediately after the open meeting, council members headed into a closed session that lasted approximately three hours.
Wednesday, March 13, council members once again headed into closed session, lasting approximately two hours.
Nothing was reported out for either closed session.
The recent press release indicated City Council members were working on the city’s strategic plan, and updating goals and priorities.
“They hope to bring on a new chief executive soon who will help them bring those goals and priorities to fruition,” the statement said.
Until an interim or fulltime city manager is announced, Solis will assume the roll as temporary city manager.