Aug 11 2013

City Administrator Geoffrey Grote

Grote to retire after 25 years of service to Piedmont – 

It was January 30, 1989, when Geoffrey L. Grote became Piedmont’s City Administrator. Grote was raised in Pleasant Hill, graduated from the University of the Pacific in Stockton and received his Juris Doctor from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington.  Before coming to Piedmont, Grote was city manager of Ojai, California  where he initiated several major projects including the Ojai Arcade and the remodeling and expansion of Ojai’s City Hall. Prior to that he had been  Assistant to the City Administrator and Assistant City Attorney in San Luis Obispo. He was founding member and President of the Santa Barbara Area Joint Powers Insurance Authority.

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At the October 1989 Piedmont Civic Association Annual meeting, Grote, as the recently hired City Administrator, spoke to the group on taxes, zoning, safety, planning, libraries, utility undergrounding, trees, playfields, and views.  Most of these issues continue to be of great interest to Piedmonters.

Grote was hired by the City Council in 1989 at a salary of $72,000 plus benefits including a car allowance.  He was chosen from among 100 applicants.

When Grote retires at the end of January 2014, he will have served as City Administrator for 25 years.  Both in Piedmont and elsewhere, the position of City Administrator or City Manager is known for frequent turn overs. His longevity speaks to his ability to work with City Councils, the public, and Piedmont employees.

Numerous City municipal service taxes were passed during Grote’s tenure with only one defeat.  The recent sewer tax proposal was defeated in 2012 followed by voter approval of another municipal service tax. 

During recent years Grote was faced with more than the usual budget balancing, public safety and planning issues. Retirements required hiring a new Police Chief, Fire Chief, City Attorney, Public Works Director, Finance Director, and City Clerk.

Vexing to the City administration, citizens and Council was the City’s assumption of risk for the private Piedmont Hills Underground Utility District resulting in a $2.5 million dollar burden on all taxpayers.  The matter remains in legal limbo as the City attempts to recover payment from the project designers and engineers.

Many say the most divisive issue to confront Piedmont in recent years was the proposal by Piedmont Recreational Facilities Organization (PRFO) to develop an extensive sports complex for soccer and other grass-based sports in Blair Park bordering Moraga Avenue.  Although the project proposal was ultimately withdrawn by PRFO and a cancellation of Council approval, it cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars and diverted hundreds of hours of City staff time. 

Pension liabilities, changes in personnel, funding, planning, public safety – all were prominent in Grote’s responsibilities. Grote has been acclaimed for his willingness to sit down with citizens, improvements to City facilities and pleasant demeanor.  New residents and visitors to Piedmont frequently remark on how beautifully maintained they find the City. Considering Grote’s knowledge of the City and its employees, the next City Administrator will have large shoes to fill.

At the City Council meeting of August 5, the following statements were made:

“I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation to the Mayor and Council, the residents of Piedmont, and the dedicated City staff for their support and assistance these almost 25 years that I have served as City Administrator,” said Grote.

“These years have been with filled with joys and disappointments, but what I will remember most vividly are the extraordinary people that I have come to know in Piedmont, residents and staff, who have worked so hard to preserve and improve this beautiful community. It has been a privilege to have been a part of that work”

“Piedmont has benefitted from Geoff’s leadership over the nearly quarter century he has served the City,” said Mayor John Chiang. “His efforts to maintain high service levels, excellent public facilities, and make Piedmont a better place for its residents will not soon be forgotten.”

Mr. Grote will remain with the City until the end of January 2014 and, according to a City press release, the recruitment process for a new City Administrator has commenced.  As an “at will” employee, Grote’s agreement with the City required him to provide 6 months of notice prior to retirement or leaving his position, hence the August 5 announcement.  Grote’s replacement could occur prior to his designated retirement date. Alternatively, there is an option of a temporary extension of his employment agreement. 

One Response to “City Administrator Geoffrey Grote”

  1. I have had the honor to become friends with Geoff and to work with him since his first days as Piedmont’s City Administrator. The community owes him a huge “Thank You” for all he has done for Piedmont over the past twenty-five years. Geoff has always been a professional, intelligent, hard-working leader and we’ve been so lucky to have him at our helm. He will be hugely missed.

    Happy Trails, Geoff, wherever they lead you!
    Patty White

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