Another Interim Montebello City Administrator Resigns

By Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou, EGP Staff Writer

Montebello has lost another city administrator.

Keith Breskin, who took the position not more than two months ago, resigned last week, becoming the third administrator to resign abruptly in the last two years.

Finance Director Francesca Tucker-Schuyler is now serving as interim city administrator, with no change in compensation. She is taking over administrator duties just as the city is putting together its budget for next year.

Read this story IN ENGLISH: Otro Administrador Interino Renuncia en Montebello

Over the next five years the city’s deficit could snowball to $17.3 million, with the upcoming year’s deficit projected at $3 million, staff said recently. A definitive plan has yet to be announced for how to tackle the deficit, though Breskin had been tasked with bringing forward a proposal by May 31.

His resignation letter dated May 16 states he is leaving his post immediately, but did not detail why. “It has been an honor to serve the Montebello community. I wish everyone well in working towards the betterment of the City in the upcoming years,” he wrote.

Breskin had been serving as the assistant interim city administrator before being tapped for the top post after a formal search failed to produce a permanent city administrator. The city has gone through six administrators since 2009, and has twice attempted to recruit a permanent administrator from outside the city.

Just three of the five council members were at a May 16 special meeting where the employment of an interim city administrator and the release of a public employee were discussed in closed session. Breskin’s resignation and the appointment of Tucker-Schuyler were announced following the meeting.

Mayor Frank Gomez and Councilman Jack Hadjinian were not at the meeting, but said they had informed the city ahead of time that they were unavailable.

Gomez believes Breskin was forced to resign after delivering bad financial news to staff and the council, and called the decision to accept his resignation a “mistake.”

“From what I heard, there were potential large cuts to the parks and recreation department, and that did not sit well with the majority council. There’s not that many places we can cut … cutting police and fire is not something the city council supports,” said Gomez, whose recent proposal to study contracting out services to the county fire department was rejected by the council.

Hadjinian said the resignation came as a surprise to him. He had been anticipating Breskin’s budget proposal, and the decision to take up Breskin’s resignation was a step back. “Francesca understands finance very well, but I don’t know how she’s going to do as city administrator. She’s never served in this capacity before,” he said.

According to Hadjinian, the city council has been at odds over what they want in a city administrator and could not narrow the short list of candidates during the last round of interviews held in April.

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May 24, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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