South Tahoe city manager will not seek contract extension | TahoeDailyTribune.com

South Tahoe city manager will not seek contract extension

Adam Jensen and Annie Flanzraich
Tahoe Daily Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – David Jinkens is set to give up the reigns as South Lake Tahoe city manager come August.

The eight-year veteran of the city’s top non-elected position announced to the City Council Tuesday that he won’t seek a renewal to his employment contract when the agreement expires in August.

Jinkens called his time as city manager a “distinct honor and privilege,” and thanked city employees “past and present” for their commitment to public service, in a copy of the announcement he sent to the Tribune Tuesday afternoon. He did not give a reason why he is ready to relinquish the role.

“After considerable thought, I am writing as well to inform you that it is my intention to not seek an extension of my employment agreement with the city this year,” Jinkens wrote in the announcement. “I will work with the City Council on a transition plan and assist in any way I can to make the transition a good one.”

Jinkens could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday evening.

In the announcement, Jinkens notes the city was able to transform a “dismal city government financial picture into a more stable city government operation with strong reserves” during his tenure, but cautions the City Council about looming fiscal concerns.

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“We face new challenges today with a state government in fiscal disarray and a slow local economy,” Jinkens wrote.

“City government leaders will need to meet these economic and budgetary challenges while maintaining, to the greatest degree financially possible, essential services to the community.”

Mayor Kathay Lovell said she expected Jinkens to leave after eight years of employment, and said Jinkens indicated three years ago that he would retire during this time frame.

“David has done an excellent job,” Lovell said. “He brought an awful lot of expertise with him and we have accomplished a lot of things. We are in some very difficult times based on the economy and he has been a real valued employee.”

However, Jinkens’ fiscal responsibility was openly questioned by city councilmembers this summer.

In June, City Councilmen Jerry Birdwell and Bill Crawford called for Jinkens’ resignation for alleged lack of oversight regarding thousands of dollars the city spends on outside legal help annually. Birdwell said he had “no confidence” in Jinkens at the time. Birdwell did not return a request for comment Tuesday evening.

The call for Jinkens’ job did not attract support from councilmembers Kathay Lovell, Bruce Grego or Hal Cole, who said they didn’t feel Jinkens expenditures on contract attorneys represented any kind of mismanagement.

“I don’t feel there was any mishandling of funds,” said Councilman Bruce Grego.

Crawford, who admittedly “crossed swords” with Jinkens on several occasions struck a conciliatory note on Tuesday. He wished Jinkens well and said he had plans to sit down with the city manager and talk without the friction that has peppered some of their public conversations.

The councilman said he wasn’t surprised by Jinkens’ announcement, saying the city manager had been under a lot of pressure for issues within the city, not all of which were Jinkens’ fault.

Still, Crawford said he filed a El Dorado Civil Grand Jury complaint near the end of 2009 regarding Jinkens handling of personnel issues with the city, including now Assistant City Attorney Jacqueline Mittelstadt and reinstated South Lake Tahoe Police Officer Johnny Poland. Although Crawford said he’s obtained confirmation that the grand jury received the complaint, he does not know if they are investigating. He doubted the grand jury would continue an investigation into a public official who is so close to quitting.

The focus right now should be on finding Jinkens’ replacement, Crawford said. The council should not wait until the last two or three months of Jinkens terms to begin looking for a new city manager, Crawford said.

“Right now the main thing is the city should start shopping around for good candidates,” Crawford said.

Lovell agreed, and said in upcoming weeks that the city council will begin discuss the process to replace Jinkens.

“There are several steps and it’s really how the council wants to structure the search,” she said.

Jinkens had 28 years of city management experience prior to being hired by the South Lake Tahoe City Council, including stints with Manteca, Morgan Hill, Avalon and Elk Grove.

Grego praised Jinkens’ work as city manager.

“I am sorry to see him go,” Grego said. ” I think he was well qualified for the job.”

To view Jinkens’ announcement, visit http://www.tahoedailytribune.com.

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