She told city council today that after 32 years in public service she’s leaving to launch a family business in public speaking, consulting and writing.
Vice Mayor Larry Small said the council will appoint an interim city manager to take over after Culbreth-Graft leaves and then launch a national search for the permanent position. He declined to name any candidates for the interim position.
Small was not surprised by Culbreth-Graft’s resignation.
“I have to say that I did see this coming,” he said. “It’s been very difficult for her. She’s been the target of a lot of unfair criticism. I don’t think that any city manager in our history has had to deal with the kinds of situations that she’s had to deal with, including laying off 550 employees.”
The news did not catch El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey unaware either.
“I think she was pretty frustrated,” he said. ”The city’s in such a tough position.”
Below is Culbreth-Graft’s resignation letter:
Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council:
This is to inform you that I am resigning my position as City Manager. My last day will be April 16, 2010. After meeting with you earlier this week, hearing your future direction, I believe this is a good time for me to leave the organization so that you can pursue this new path. After 32 years of serving the public, I will be launching a family business in public speaking, consulting, and writing.
In my two years with the City, inheriting a substantial financial shortfall, we have reduced deficits of $90 million and removed nearly 550 positions while working to minimize the impacts on the public. While your staff and I have worked diligently to plan the future with declining resources, a plethora of options remain available should you wish to reconsider them. I have worked to leave you with a plan for continued cuts and shedding of municipal operations.
I want to commend each of you for your relentless service to this community. What you are doing is thankless, time consuming, and difficult.
Finally, my comments must focus on the public servants who have labored tirelessly to care for the people of our city. They are to be commended for their professionalism—especially in these times of severe scrutiny. They are remarkable. I urge you to consider the business case for avoiding further cuts in compensation—especially given the looming collapse of the TABOR cap that will ensure no adjustments despite a future economic recovery. Even without any decreases, your workforce is behind the market and will lose ground as each city on the Front Range recovers, making it impossible to employ a competent, trained, and knowledgeable workforce.
Thank you for the privilege of serving the City of Colorado Springs.
Dr. Penelope Culbreth-Graft