Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sun Valley hires interim city administrator

VanNort brings wealth of prior experience

Express Staff Writer

The city of Sun Valley has operated without a city administrator since Virginia Egger vacated the post in mid-June. Last week, the city announced it would hire an interim administrator, one with intimate knowledge of Sun Valley politics who will also assist in the vetting process for a permanent city administrator.

Bob VanNort served as city administrator in Sun Valley from 1996 through 2001, and although he's only been back to the valley once since his departure, "it's like I never left," he said in a phone interview. "I know the players. I know the issues, and it's such a wonderful place. I really look forward to returning to Sun Valley."

VanNort is officially retired but manages to fill his time with stints in city government, predominantly in California. California law allows an individual to work six months a year and still receive pension and other retirement benefits while Idaho law allows five months of employment. During his tenure with Sun Valley VanNort will make $9,500 per month.

This Friday will be the last day of his four-week role as city administrator of Gustine, Calif., a small town of about 5,000 residents located roughly 50 miles east of San Jose.

He said it can be challenging to step into temporary roles for cities with varying priorities and agendas but his past experience in city government has prepared him for the challenge.

VanNort worked to incorporate three cities in California: Big Bear Lake, Diamond Bar and Chino Hills. This means he worked with communities that were part of a larger municipality, helping them to build a city government from the ground up.

He described his impending role in Sun Valley as somewhat of a "hybrid role." He will work both as city administrator, the city's de facto CEO. That means he will manage municipal business and carry out the City Council's plans and directions by coordinating the work of all departments and employees. He will also assist in the search for a permanent city administrator, participating in interviews and lending advice on potential candidates.

"We are extremely fortunate to have someone with Bob's experience and expertise," said Sun Valley Mayor Jon Thorson. "He will be a real asset for the city."

VanNort's contract begins Sept. 1 and continues through Dec. 31, with an option for a fifth month of service if necessary.

Thorson said the plan is to have the position filled by the first of the year.

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