COLUMBIANA - In a move that shocked City Council and left Mayor David Spatholt speechless, Keith Chamberlin announced Tuesday he is resigning from the city manager position.
Chamberlin told Spatholt to read the resignation letter aloud at the close of the council meeting, and until then no one seated at the table appeared to know of his intentions.
Chamberlin said in the letter that after roughly 23 years of employment he has decided to leave because of changes in the Ohio Public Employee Retirement System (OPERS) that was signed into law by Gov. John Kasich.
The OPERS legislation takes effect Jan. 7, 2013, and changes increase employee contributions, compute new final average salaries, require longer service and reduce cost-of-living adjustments.
The Columbus Dispatch reported in September the changes are to ensure that the pension systems can meet the state requirement that their unfunded liabilities be paid off within 30 years.
Chamberlin said in lieu of the changes "it makes no financial sense for me to continue in my present position."
Prior to working as city manager the last 20-and-a-half years, he was public service director for two-and-a-half years.
He said the "most significant changes" during that time have been the growth of the town, an increase in population that "spurred on" many new housing developments, and the increase and expansion of commercial and industrial businesses.
He also said the expansion of utilities was significant as Columbiana transitioned from being a village to a city.
"Through all of the changes and also the downturn of the economy the city has been and is still in very good fiscal condition," he said.
He closed the letter by saying that working for Columbiana the last two decades has been "challenging" but also "very rewarding."
Spatholt said after reading the letter that he was "shocked" and "speechless" that Chamberlin chose to resign.
Other members of council also expressed surprise and councilmen Bryan Blakeman and Bob Bieshelt said after the meeting that they were also unaware he was considering leaving the position.
Chamberlin didn't offer additional comment after the meeting, only noting that the OPERS changes were the main reason for his decision.
He also didn't indicate whether he has found, or was pursuing a job elsewhere, although during the meeting he commented that he is "still young" and has more career potential ahead.
The 61-year-old will be replaced by Service Director Jay Groner until a full-time replacement is found. Groner already serves as acting city manager when Chamberlin is on vacation or otherwise out of the office and that authority was granted through the city's charter.