City engineer Louis Najar has been named the new interim city manager for Roswell, following the premature departure of interim city manager Paula Hertwig-Hopkins.
Najar assumed the city manager’s post Wednesday, when Hertwig-Hopkins stepped down less than two months after taking over day-to-day management of Roswell’s 600-position workforce and $117 million annual budget.
“Mayor Dennis Kintigh made the appointment following the earlier-than-expected departure of interim city manager Paula Hertwig-Hopkins, who had planned to work in Roswell until April or May, but had to leave the position for personal reasons that arose unexpectedly,” city spokesperson Todd Wildermuth said Wednesday in a news release. “Her last day was also moved forward to (Wednesday) from her originally scheduled departure Feb. [auth] 24.”
Wildermuth said Najar’s appointment will be considered for approval by the City Council at its next regular meeting March 9.
“If approved, Najar will serve until a permanent city manager is named,” Wildermuth said. “He will be paid at a rate equivalent to an annual salary of $145,000 while serving as interim city manager and also maintaining his duties as city engineer.”
Five people, including Najar, have led city government since the resignation of former city manager Steve Polasek last summer.
Najar filled the top city post briefly until the city hired James Rod Hogan as interim city manager in September. Hogan was recommended by Strategic Government Resources of Keller, Texas, an executive recruitment firm the city paid $106.67 an hour for Hogan’s services.
Hogan left the temporary position Dec. 22 to return to Texas.
Hertwig-Hopkins, a second candidate hired from SGR, began as interim city manager on Jan. 3, also at the rate of $106.67 an hour. At the time, the expectation was that Hertwig-Hopkins would fill the leadership post until April or May, when a permanent city manager was expected to be hired.
Polasek resigned effective Aug. 1, citing a desire to be geographically closer to family in Texas. He began his tenure as Roswell’s city manager on Nov. 12, 2014, closing at an annual salary of $163,580.
The city initially hired Jonathan Phillips as interim city manager for an indefinite period, effective July 5, at an annual salary of $135,000. Phillips submitted his resignation as interim city manager on July 22, effective Sept. 6.
Najar and director of administrative services Elizabeth Stark-Rankins have served brief periods as interim city manager in recent months.
The city is continuing its search for a permanent city manager, with the assistance of Waters & Co., an Addison, Texas-based firm that offers executive recruitment services.
The City Council interviewed four finalists for a permanent city manager in October. However, none of the four finalists were recommended by Kintigh and the recruitment process was begun anew.
Senior Writer Jeff Tucker may be contacted at 575-622-7710, ext. 303, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.