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Updated: City Manager Laura Gill Resigns Amidst Word The City of Elk Grove Will Not Renew Her Contract

Updated: City Manager Laura Gill Resigns Amidst Word The City of Elk Grove Will Not Renew Her Contract

Elk Grove City Manager Laura Gill

Resignation of Laura Gill Announced

As of Wednesday May 9th, around the time of the Elk Grove City Council Meeting, a press release circulated saying that City Manager Laura Gill will resign. The Elk Grove City Council was expected to terminate Gill’s contract in a closed session. At this point, it appears the City of Elk Grove would have terminated Gill’s contract but they are allowing her to resign.

The Elk Grove City Council approved $297,053 in a severance package, as well as any additional pay and accrued leave Gill had accumulated. In return Gill waives her right to sue the City of Elk Grove.  Gill’s salary was $269,156.

As of Tuesday Kristyn Nelson, Public Affairs Manager for the City of Elk Grove said, “The City Council hasn’t taken any action yet.” She encouraged us to wait for the City Council Meeting. “We’re expecting a discussion on that tomorrow night.”

Gill’s review was expected to be in a closed session before the City Council Meeting Wednesday May 9.  The City Council normally issues a report out of the closed session if it takes any action.

Under her contract, the City Council evaluates her performance at least once a year. However,  it can do so more frequently if it chooses to do so. Gill’s performance evaluation has been on agenda for three consecutive special meetings in two months this year.

Nelson could not comment further on the issue, as it is a personnel matter. Nelson said Gill was on vacation out-0f-state this week.  Assistant City Manager Jason Behrmann has been Acting City Manager in Gill’s absence. We could not reach Gill for comment on Tuesday or Wednesday.

City employees learned Tuesday May 8 that last Friday May 4 was Gill’s last day on the job. However a press release sent out by the City of Elk Grove says May 11 is Gill’s last day on the job.

According to her bio on the city’s website, the Elk Grove City Council appointed Laura Gill to be the City Manager in May, 2008.  She was the city’s third City Manager and the only female City Manager in the Sacramento region.

Before that, she was chief administrative officer for El Dorado County for five years. She also worked in a variety of positions with the city of Durham, North Carolina for 15 years before moving to California.

She is currently making  $269,156.28, according to the city’s salary survey released in February this year.  Her initial contract with Elk Grove in 2008 called for a salary of $195,000.    She received a raise in 2012, earning $228,871 that year. She got another bump  in 2013, when she pulled in $240,315.

Under her employment agreement, Gill  is an at-will employee of the city. That  means the City Council can terminate her employment at any time, with or without cause.  She gets severance pay if the City of Elk Grove terminates her without cause. However, if she was fired for cause, then she is not entitled to anything.

The following reasons were listed in her agreement as “cause” for termination:   conviction of a felony, fraud, material dishonesty or gross negligence in the performance of her duties, death or disability, or civil liability for a violation of statue or law constituting misconduct in office.’

It’s not clear what prompted the City Council to consider ending Gill’s employment contract.

Background Information

Gill came under fire from the City Council earlier this year after she spent $38,000 on hiring consultants to come up with a name for the Elk Grove Civic Center. Neither residents nor the City Council liked the proposed names, and the city scrapped the effort to name the center.  Although Gill  had the authority to spend up to $50,000 without City Council approval, residents have been upset. Many residents vocalized their displeasure that the city spent so much money on the consultants without public input.

In February, the City Council voted down a staff proposal  to expand Gill’s purchasing authority to buy homes for use as navigation hubs for the homeless. The proposal would have allowed the City Manager to make offers up to $500,000 each on up to three properties without City Council approval. It was a  way to speed up the process to buying properties for the city’s use.

At the time, City Council Member Pat Hume rejected the proposal.“This process needs, obviously more checks and balances, not fewer,” he said. Hume  also made the point that his concerns wasn’t due to mistrust of Gill.   “This is a burden that should be shouldered by those who can be removed from office, or stood for re-election,” he said.

The City Council eventually approved the purchase of one house for use as a transitional home for the city’s homeless.

On the city’s website, Gill claimed that her first assignment as City Manager was to balance a $210 million budget  “during the worst economic downturn in our city’s history.” She further stated that after stabilizing the budget, she was able to concentrate on promoting economic development and job creation. However, the City of Elk Grove has had a hard time attracting new employers, despite the increase in size of the economic development department. The City of Elk Grove also does not have high end stores. It is hopeful this will change upon completion of the Elk Grove Promenade. The proposed soccer complex has also still not yet come to fruition.

Press Release By City of Elk Grove

Emailed out Wednesday May 9 at 7:41 PM.

Elk Grove City Manager Laura S. Gill Resigns

Elk Grove, Calif. – Laura S. Gill announced her resignation today as Elk Grove’s city manager. Her last day will be Friday, May 11. Ms. Gill’s departure comes at the request of a majority of the city council made during their April 11 closed session meeting.

Ms. Gill was appointed as Elk Grove’s third city manager in May 2008 and steered the city through the Great Recession. Laura has more than 30 years of municipal government experience serving previously for El Dorado County and the City of Durham, North Carolina.

“We are a stronger community because of Ms. Gill’s leadership at City Hall,” said Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly. “While the Council sees this as a time for change, we value the hard work and dedication that she has provided to the residents of Elk Grove for nearly a decade.”

In her letter of resignation, Ms. Gill shared the following:

“Thank you for the privilege of serving you and the citizens of Elk Grove for nearly a decade. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of a special organization that has valued responsiveness, customer service, and teamwork to deliver excellent services to our citizens and customers every day.”

“I am proud of the work that we have accomplished, and I look forward to seeing the results of the initiatives that we have started. I wish the City and the organization all the best in the future.”

Ms. Gill’s severance package was approved by the city council in closed session. Elk Grove’s Assistant City Manager, Jason Behrmann, will serve as the Interim City Manager.

The City Council will determine the process to recruit and fill the City Manager position.

Laura Gill’s Sentiments

In any case, it’s unknown how Gill feels about her employment situation  as she was unavailable for comment.

But perhaps she left a clue in her Facebook page, where she posted a quote from Stevie Nicks Saturday night:

“You just have to walk in the room and be fearless. Never let people think for a minute that you couldn’t totally take them down.”


About The Author

Tillie Fong

Tillie is a recovering news junkie and real life Lady Bird. She is a former staff writer for Rocky Mountain News in Colorado, and former on-call reporter for The Sacramento Bee.

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