OAKRIDGE, Ore. — The Oakridge city council Thursday night accepted the resignation of city manager Gordon Zimmerman. His resignation is effective immediately.
The vote to allow Zimmerman to resign followed one that called for him to be terminated with cause. It was clear from the mood in city hall chambers that residents favored the man’s firing. But Mayor Don Hampton told KEZI 9 News that allowing a resignation was the most cost-effective approach.
Hampton said, “I know not everyone is happy with the decision, but I think this is an opportunity to put this behind us and move on to solving the problems we have as a city.”
And those problems are considerable. Oakridge’s budget problems became the source of public consternation and ridicule last summer when Zimmerman acknowledged the city no longer had the money to pay its bills. The city was forced to take out a loan to meet its obligations and several city employees were laid off.
A forensic accountant hired by Oakridge pored over the books going back years and reported that Zimmerman had to have known there would be a serious shortfall. Tiffany Couch also reported that she saw no evidence of fraud or embezzlement. She indicated in her report last week to the council that the issue was one of lack of oversight.
Regarding the vote to allow Zimmerman to resign, Budget Chairman James Affa expressed the relief of many, saying, “We can move forward from this and not be held hostage anymore.”
Zimmerman will be paid two months’ worth of severance. He was not present for last night’s city council vote.