Departed Janesville official remains on payroll

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Jim Leute
Saturday, March 23, 2013

— A Janesville economic development official who abruptly left his job last week will be paid through July 1.

Assistant City Manager Jay Winzenz said Friday that Vic Grassman will be paid his normal salary until July 1, the effective date of his resignation.

Grassman, the city's economic development director since 2009, tendered his resignation last Friday for what City Manager Eric Levitt said were personal reasons.

Grassman departed City Hall that day, and nearly all references to him have since been removed from the city's website. He has declined comment on his resignation.

Grassman's salary is $96,913 a year, which means the city will pay him about $28,000 for the nearly three and one-half months he's not working. After July 1, he will be eligible for a lump-sum payment of any accrued vacation time or other floating days off.

“We're trying to move forward with economic development, and based on our strategies and what's been accomplished in the past, we wanted to move forward in a different direction,” Winzenz said. “The decision was made to move in that direction, and in reaching that decision, Vic decided to resign his position.”

Asked why the city will continue to pay Grassman for 15 weeks' of work he will not perform, Winzenz responded: “Part of what went into our decision is that we have a number of economic development projects in the works, and rather than have someone working in the lead position who will not be here in the future, we decided it would be best to start the transition now so companies will know exactly who they are dealing with.

“We wanted to make a clean break and move in a new direction, move forward,” Winzenz said. “To do that, we felt it was in our best interest to make that transition effective immediately.”

Winzenz said paying a departed employee for that length of time is not unusual.

“It's happened in the past when an employee resigned with an effective date well into the future,” he said. “Is it the norm, though? No.”

Winzenz and Levitt said a strategy session would take place in two weeks to help define the direction of the city's economic development efforts. It will include representatives of the city staff, Forward Janesville, Rock County 5.0 and the county.

Levitt said the city soon would determine whether to fill Grassman's position in a similar fashion or restructure the department with more of a team approach.

He said the city recently committed more funding to economic development and will consider spreading Grassman's responsibilities among one or more people or contracting with outside organizations for specific economic development functions.

For the time being, Winzenz and staffer Al Hulick will pick up many of those economic development responsibilities, which Levitt said would continue to be a top priority for the city.

Economic development likely will be a top priority for a city manager other than Levitt, who is the lone finalist for a similar position in Simi Valley, Calif. A decision on his hiring in the Southern California city of 125,000 is expected in the next few weeks.

Grassman was hired in the fall of 2009 from a pool of five finalists to succeed Doug Venable, who retired after 22 years with the city. Grassman came to Janesville from Denver, where he was an economic development officer for that city.

Last updated: 7:54 am Monday, April 29, 2013

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