Burbank City Manager Mike Flad announced on Monday plans to leave media city and take the top post at the city of South Gate, stunning city officials who expected him to retire in the city where he had spent more than two-decades building his career.
Flad became the second-youngest city manager in Burbank’s history when he assumed the top job in 2008 and has worked for the city for nearly 23 years.
“It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me on the face of it,” said Councilman David Gordon on Tuesday. “My understanding was that the city manager had plans to stay in Burbank for a long time.”
In February, the city extended Flad’s contract for five years to December 2016, with an initial salary of $18,117 a month and an annual 3% increase after two years.
“I had hopes his plan would be to retire from the city of Burbank,” said Councilman Jess Talamantes. “There were some big challenges he had to deal with. As far as I was concerned, he was doing a fine job.”
The most notable of those challenges was overseeing a police department mired by outside investigations into excessive use-of-force and lawsuits filed by current and former officers.
Flad said Tuesday that he was approached about six weeks ago by a recruiter for the position in South Gate — a much poorer city than Burbank.
“It just seemed like a good fit for me,” he said, adding that the hiring process included a written application and four interviews.
His contract could be finalized in time for a vote by the South Gate City Council on Sept. 25, in which case he estimated his last day at Burbank would be Oct. 26.
It will be a much different landscape — from movie studios and a solid economy with low crime rates, to a South L.A. bedroom community sandwiched between Lynwood and Cudahy.
The news of Flad’s move comes as Burbank continues the process of finding a permanent police chief, meaning the city may have to fill two top executive jobs at the same time. And since the city manager supervises the police chief, that recruitment could be difficult, city officials said.
“The announcement was so sudden….” Talamantes said. “We might have to put the police search off.”