Hugh Chumley, the Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor's chief of staff, has resigned, becoming the second senior official in a week to quit Mayor Dave Carey's administration.
Chumley will officially leave his position on Feb. 19.
"I am at a point in my life where I wish to focus on my family and other interests and needs," Chumley said in a press statement released Friday afternoon.
In the written statement released Friday, Carey said he "regretfully" accepted the resignation.
"Mr. Chumley's expertise as a long standing business leader on the Kenai Peninsula and in the oil and gas industry have been a great asset to my administration," Carey said. "He has been very instrumental in affecting change and adding value to processes within the borough during his employment. Mr. Chumley brought his many years of business experience and leadership with him to the chief of staff position and replacing that expertise will be a challenge."
Carey on Saturday declined further comment. Chumley could not be reached for comment.
On Jan. 15, borough director of emergency management Scott Walden submitted his resignation, stating health reasons. In his resignation letter, Walden cited a number of what he felt were problems within the administration. He urged Carey to put more trust in his department heads, improve relations with the borough assembly and correct what he felt were problems in the borough's human resources department.
Carey on Friday announced Nikiski Fire Department Chief Jaimes Baisden would serve as interim director of emergency management.
Chumley's resignation is the latest in what have been a series of stumbles in the Carey administration since he took office just more than a year ago. Early in last year's borough budget process, Carey and the assembly clashed over cuts Carey wanted. The assembly eventually overrode them. Last fall Carey revealed to the assembly that he had hired Chumley and the mayor's special assistant, Susan Wilcox, at salaries $20,000 more than their predecessors. Carey gave other borough officials sizable salary increases. While the pay boosts were well within the authorized pay scales, some assembly members felt they were excessive. In November, Carey trimmed the salaries for his top staff by 6 percent.
Chumley himself drew attention when it was revealed he had sold truck maintenance equipment to the borough on a sole source contract in August, but had not signed a required "Intent to to Business" form, as required by borough ordinance.
Chumley and Carey both apologized for what they deemed an oversight, and Chumley returned the $18,000. He also returned an additional $1,800 for a separate sales transaction, also undertaken without the required intent form.
The borough assembly held a series of discussions on how and whether to deal with Chumley's violation, even considering an ordinance to erase the entire transaction. That move eventually failed in a 5-4 vote.
While the paperwork mess was being cleared, Carey submitted a report to the assembly acknowledging mistakes in following the Intent to to Business law. He said the mistakes resulted in other similar omissions in the past when other borough employees or assembly members had separate business dealings with the borough. He also offered recommendations on how to prevent procedural mistakes in the future.
Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly President Pete Sprague said Chumley's resignation did not come as a huge surprise.
"I knew that things had been pretty difficult for Mr. Chumley over recent developments with the borough," Sprague said Saturday. "There's a lot of pressure in that position."
Borough code specifies it will be the mayor's responsibility to refill the position.
Carey said he will have a replacement selected by Feb. 19.
Assembly member Gary Knopp had not yet heard about the resignation shortly before 2:30 p.m. Friday. Knopp was more taken aback by the news. It was his ordinance that would have forgiven Chumley's failure to file the necessary paperwork.
"He's always been sincere and honest. He's been around and in business a long time, and that doesn't happen in a small community unless you've been sincere and honest," Knopp said.
Despite the recent controversies, Sprague said he will be sorry to see Chumley leave.
"Mr. Chumley and I have always had a very good relationship, and I am sorry to hear about the resignation," he said.
Andrew Waite can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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