Ontario city manager's final day will be April 20

During his time as Ontario City Manager, Adam Brown got to visit Japan with former Ontario Mayor Ron Verini in 2017. The two were invited to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the reorganization and establishment of the Japanese city of Osakasayama — Ontario’s sister city. Pictured, from left, are Miho Yoshioka, who was an exchange student at Ontario High School in the 1970s,  Verini, Shigemitsu Ishii and Brown.

ONTARIO — Adam Brown’s final day as Ontario’s city manager will be on April 20, with the Keizer City Council having approved his contract to manage that city during its meeting on Monday night. Brown attended that meeting via Zoom and said the council’s vote was unanimous.

Brown has been leading the city of Ontario since June of 2016, having moved here from Michigan.

“It is with heavy heart and gratitude that I offer my resignation,” he told council members in his resignation letter, which was dated March 8, but emailed to them late Monday night.

Brown said it has “truly been a blessing” being the city manager of Ontario and said during his time here he has “been part of an amazing and supportive team.”

Highlights for him included citizen engagement, friendships and supportive peers in partner organizations. Brown also noted that all six of his children attended Ontario schools, with three of them having graduated high school here.

Saying he was “blessed to work with great city elected leaders,” and noting they had accomplished much together, Brown voiced excitement for the future of Ontario. This will include the completion of projects long in the works, such as the Tater Tots Trail along the Snake River, as well as continued growth and beautification in the city.

Brown said he was grateful to those who brought him here and those who allowed him to stay.

As his contract requires 45 days notice, Brown told the council his focus during that time will be “wrapping up key contracts and organizing my work so that as little drop off as possible will be lost in my absence.” Brown in mid-February notified the council that he intended to accept the position if the offer became official.

He told the council that as time permits, he will be taking leave for his transition to Keizer.

On Feb. 8, the Ontario City Council gave Brown a retroactive 2.5% raise, bringing his final salary with the city of Ontario to $138,403 per year. Brown said his new salary in Keizer will be $169,832, and that he is “very grateful for the opportunity they have given me to come to their community.”

Brown marks the fifth city leader to leave since August of 2021, joining half of the department heads in leaving, with some citing the political climate at City Hall as causal for their departure. During that time frame, there was a push from Ontario Mayor Riley Hill to amend the city’s charter to allow the council to participate in hiring of department heads. That attempt was shot down early this year, staying in control of the city manager; however, without a city manager in place, that action will default to the council.

What’s next?

Some council members responded to a request for comments this morning regarding how they will begin the process to search for the next city manager.

Councilor Eddie Melendrez said with the resignation now official, “I think it will be good for Council to begin those talks at our next meeting. I’m sure we will come to agreement in how that process works along with guidance from city staff.”

The council’s next regular meeting isn’t until March 22. Tonight’s regularly scheduled meeting was canceled due to budget sessions for the next three days. An executive session is all that is in place for today, which is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.

Council President Ken Hart in an email this morning said the council will need to meet to understand its options and decide its next steps.

“I wish Adam and his family well and know he will do a great job for the people of Keizer,” Hart wrote.

Hill in a phone interview this morning said he would say the same thing he told Keizer city officials, that Brown was a smart man and he thought he would do a great job for them.

“I wish him luck,” Hill said.

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