City of Dayton searches for new city administrator, after former manager says he was pushed out

DAYTON, Ky. – After managing cities for 40 years and 362 days, Dennis Redmond, Dayton’s city administrator resigned from his position—even though he said, he did not want to.

Just shy of retirement by about two years, Redmond said he was forced out of his position earlier this month and isn’t sure why, other than for personal reasons. But Mayor Ken Rankle said no one was forced out. He said Redmond did a good job, but he didn’t want to keep someone who didn’t want to be there.

It’s the first time in Redmond's career that the 64-year-old has been unemployed.

“I’m out looking for a job,” he said.

The former city administrator resigned after eight years on Jan. 3, but claims he was forced out for personal reasons the mayor has against him—reasons that neither he nor the mayor would discuss.

“I’ve done a lot of soul searching and there was nothing that I had done or said… I don’t know what I did on an official basis to deserve what I got. It was personal, had nothing to do with my job,” said Redmond, who started his work in Dayton in September 2005. He was the longest serving administrator in Dayton's history.

“It’s upsetting, because he was the most qualified person we’d ever had in the city,” said Lynn Adam, an architect, who sits on the Planning & Zoning Board and the Board of Architectural Review for the city. “This had nothing to do with Dennis professionally.”

While Redmond had threatened resignation twice before due to organizational conflicts within the administration, he said he had no choice this time.

On Dec. 23, the mayor wrote Redmond an email, he said. In closing, the mayor stated that he had ‘lost all confidence, all trust and all respect for the administration,’ Redmond said.

“I felt so confident in my abilities, I was completely shocked when the mayor lost confidence, trust and respect,” he said. The mayor confirmed he sent the email.

“In my world of city manager, when the executive director says that they are demanding your resignation, that’s when you start looking for another job,” he said.

On the same day, Redmond said that he answered the mayor’s email by saying, ‘Sorry you feel this way, and on Jan. 31, 2014, I will resign’.

His resignation was accepted three weeks sooner on Jan. 3, 2014.

“He didn’t feel things were right. I didn’t feel things were right. He was not forced. If he was forced, he would’ve been terminated,” the mayor said.

“[But] if he wants to leave then it might as well be as soon as possible,” said Rankle about why he chose to expedite the resignation date.

Rankle said he doesn’t think that Redmond’s departure is a ‘big deal’.

“I just had the feeling, that if he wanted to leave, he wasn’t doing his job, and wanted to leave, than that was fine to me,” Rankle said.

“You lead the way you expect to be led. You have differences you can sit down and discuss or move on. He chose to move on,” he said. 

The mayor said the two differed on opinions on how to run the administration, which included conflicts on items like everyday business procedures and chain of command.

“I had some concerns—how the office staff was handled, the attitude in the office,” said Rankle.

Rankle never gave Redmond a formal performance reviews in nearly nine years. The mayor said that the city could establish those in the future.

“I’m no angel and I don’t wear a halo, but I have never worked harder than I have in Dayton. The challenges were all but impossible,” said Redmond. “Now out of a job for the first time in my lifetime because of personal retribution and not job-related, I look back over the past four weeks, and say, ‘I made a difference, I’m proud of my historic tenure work’.”

The mayor agreed he did a good job. 

“We have a lot of things accomplished on the river,” acknowledged Rankle, “He’s been here since start of the riverfront.”

“Dennis did a good job for us while he was here,” he said.

But, “nobody is irreplaceable.”

City’s Accomplishments Under Redmond’s Watch

“When I came to Dayton, I immediately fell in love because of the significant needs that the community and citizens had,” Redmond said. “It was the first time I felt really needed in a city in 30 years. But Dayton had many, many, many problems, that I spent many, many, many hours on.”

His departure comes at a time when Dayton’s riverfront is in a developmental upswing—where 40 homes are under construction, the much-anticipated Manhattan Harbour , a $400-million project, is hitting its stride with a pronounced economic boom. The city expects the revenue will be $500,000 annually after five years.

“Dennis was very instrumental in every aspect of Manhattan Harbour—getting it through council and planning–everything related to that project, he had a hand in it,” Adam said.

In the last 10 years, the city:

  • Eliminated its debt totaling $600,000. 
  • Created the Grant Park Development which created 85 new homes, totaling $33 million.
  • Created Riverpointe condos,  a $40 million project
  • Formed the Main Street Committee, a community group of volunteers to improve
    • business district in Dayton.
    • Formed the Historic Preservation Committee, which created a historic district on Main Street and is creates zoning for historical sites.
    • Opened the city’s first local museum.
    • Won a state award for video surveillance for law enforcement inside schools.
    • Hired the first school resource officer.
    • Hired a Main Street manager, a first for the city.
    • Reduced crime to an all-time low.
    • Reduced taxes.

    “I’m proud to say, in eight years and five months, I left Dayton better than I found it,” he said. “I hope that what I’ve tried to set in motion works for the community in the future and I think it will.”

    “The greatest rewards I’ve had in my job have been in the City of Dayton. I truly believe that the quality of life is better,''Redmond said. "[We] drove many miles, but had many more miles to go.”

    Redmond held similar positions in North Palm Beach, Fla., and Maysville, Ky.

    During his 31 years as city administrator in Maysville, the then-mayor said that he made their city flourish.

    “Everything he did was for the betterment of Maysville,” said Rick Litton, Maysville City commissioner and former mayor, who served the city alongside Redmond for nine years. Redmond was administrator there from 1973-2004.

    In that time, Maysville saw their own riverfront development, downtown revitalization, inter-local agreements with county government—which allowed them to provide services to citizens by partnering with county government—successful annexation, merger of two city governments, attracting industry and creating jobs, said Litton.

    “He brought to our community new and fresh ideas—enthusiasm, and the knowledge and the ability to ‘make it happen.’”

    Now, Redmond hopes to do that for another city.

    “I’m just hoping that some smart community needs me as much as I need them. And that’s what I’m trying to bank on,” said Redmond. 

    Dayton Searches For New Administrator

    The city is accepting resumes for the city administrator position. Rankle said the ideal candidate is someone who has experience in finance, knowledge of government bonds and someone with good people skills.

    Rankle predicts that the search for a new administrator could take up to two months. In that time, the city will create a hiring committee, the mayor will make his recommendation and then the council will approve for hire.

    If you’re interested in applying, visit the City of Dayton’s website, CLICK HERE .

    For more stories by Jessica Noll, go to www.wcpo.com/noll . Follow her on Twitter @JessicaWCPO.

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