Flagstaff City Manager Josh Copley submitted his letter of resignation Wednesday, alleging discourteous behavior by a pair of unnamed members of the city council.

“Over the course of the past few months, I have repeatedly been treated in an unprofessional and discourteous manner by two city council members who seem to be more concerned with their political ambitions and personal agendas than the good of the city as a whole,” Copley wrote in his letter of resignation.

“While I have come to expect this type of behavior from those two, I am deeply disappointed in the remainder of the council who appear to have chosen to succumb to unseemly tactics and renege on a commitment made to me to allow me the small courtesy of deciding when I would choose to retire,” he wrote. “As a leader, I would never think to treat my subordinates with such careless disregard and to allow this to pass without strenuous objection is a discredit to me and, vicariously, to all of the wonderful employees of our great city.”

Copley did not specify the two council members to whom he was referring.

In the letter, Copley said his resignation would be effective May 8.

“There are a host of difficult challenges that lay before the city in the coming months, and I do not feel that I now have the ability to effectively lead us through them without the support and backing of the council,” Copley wrote.

Copley said he hoped his resignation might spark some change in the council’s behavior.

“My hope is that my departure will spark a renewed interest among some council members to put aside any petty differences and strive to respect and value each other for the greater good of our citizens,” he said in the letter. “This may set the stage for a more productive and respectful dialogue with city staff, who deserve our best first thoughts and undivided attention.”

Copley was appointed city manager in August of 2015, originally for a term that was scheduled to expire in February 2017. His contract was then extended to last through February 2019.

His contract states that if he resigns voluntarily, the city is not obligated to provide severance pay.

City spokeswoman Jessica Drum said the city council will take action on the resignation over the next few days.

He was originally appointed for only 18 months, while the council was supposed to search for a permanent city manager.

He took over after interim city manager Jeff Meilbeck’s contract ended. Meilbeck served as interim after Kevin Burke, the former city manager who served in the position for seven years, left for a job in Paradise Valley.

The city manager’s duties include preparing the agenda ahead of city council meetings, ensuring ordinances and provisions of city-granted franchises, leases, contracts, permits and privileges are observed, hiring and firing city employees, preparing an annual proposed budget, advising the city council about the needs of the city and other responsibilities pertaining to city leadership.

Copley’s contract guaranteed him a base salary of $183,600 and a $350 monthly vehicle allowance.

His contract required the city council review and evaluate Copley’s performance annually, no later than February 26 of each year he served as city manager.

Copley was appointed deputy city manager in January 2012. He oversaw the management of the Flagstaff police and fire departments, utilities, management services, risk management, human resources, information technology, community development, city clerk and real estate.

Copley has been employed with the city for 33 years, including 26 years with the Flagstaff Police Department, where he worked his way up from patrol officer to deputy police chief. He has a master’s degree in management with an emphasis in public administration from Northern Arizona University and a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Phoenix.

In his resignation letter, Copley said he has been grateful to serve as city manager.

“It has been an honor and privilege for me and, indeed, the highlight of my long career with the city of Flagstaff,” he said.

The reporter can be reached at cvanek@azdailysun.com or 556-2249.


City Government and Development Reporter

Corina Vanek covers city government, city growth and development for the Arizona Daily Sun.

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