Holland City Manager to step down after review

Ryan Cotton (Courtesy | City of Holland)

HOLLAND, MI – Holland’s city manager will resign at the end of his contract next week, officials announced Wednesday, June 21.

Ryan Cotton has been the city manager in Holland for the past five years.

“We went through his review and his contract was wrapping up at the same time,” said Third Ward Councilman Brian Burch. “He chose to resign at this time and that was the decision that he made.”

The City Council held a special meeting Monday, June 19, and Wednesday, June 14, in which they had closed-door sessions for an employee evaluation.

First Ward Councilman Myron “Mike” Trethewey led Cotton’s review committee. He declined to comment on the substance of Cotton’s review, citing the confidentiality of a closed session.

“We’re always going to have differences,” Trethewey said of the nine-member council’s relationship with the city manager. “But big bones of contention? I didn’t have any.”

Cotton led Holland through several lean budget years, and managed the city’s budget as the city council intensively planned for the Civic Center renovations that began this spring after years of debate and studies.

“We are thankful for Ryan’s contributions in the service of our city and we wish him well in future endeavors,” Mayor Nancy DeBoer said in a statement. “For the past five years, Ryan brought us through some of Holland’s most challenging periods. He kept us solvent and sustainable and helped us remain a safe, affordable and desirable place for families live.”

After Cotton’s departure June 30, Holland Police Chief Matt Messer will serve as the interim city manager. The city will be undergoing a national search for a replacement.

“Ryan’s job is to give us the facts. We as the policy makers – there’s a great delineation between operations and policy and he walked that line very well,” Trethewey said. “He presented us with facts as we requested and gave guidance with the Civic Center.”

The city is trying to fill some staff positions that have been vacant due to Recession budget cuts, highlighted through a recent staffing study.

“There were some needs that we knew, and we also knew that it wasn’t going to happen overnight,” Trethewey said. “We’re prioritizing how that happens. That portion has not been completed.”

Cotton and his wife have lived in a house next door to the Civic Center since arriving in Holland from Spring Lake. He was the village manager of Spring Lake from 2002 to 20012, and was the city manager of Grand Haven from 1995 to 2002. Previously Cotton also worked in municipal management in Vermont, Ohio and Illinois.
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