By Jessica Mathews & Jon King /

Howell’s new city manager says “he’s ready to move mountains - sometimes with a teaspoon and others with a bulldozer.”

Erv Suida was originally the City’s DPS Director but served as acting city manager for a year after longtime City Manager Shea Charles resigned in 2019. Council ended up hiring Paul DeBuff to serve as manager, but he resigned earlier this month after less than a year on the job amid issues with staff morale and an acknowledgment of "unpleasantries" although no details were ever officially released.

In response, the city has turned back to the steady hand Suida had provided, unanimously approving Monday night a contract agreement to make him the city’s permanent City Manager. Mayor Nick Proctor said he, Suida, and the city’s attorney met last week and reached an agreement fashioned from past agreements with the last two city managers. He noted that considering Suida’s long career with the City, they also added in appropriate protections for pension and retirement benefits in case a future Council decide to make changes after the November election.

The agreement is for an indefinite term of employment and sets a base salary of $108,665, with Suida entitled to annual increases starting in January 2022. It includes an automobile allowance of $600 per month and Suida is entitled to disability and health insurance benefits and will be provided a term life insurance policy valued at $50,000. Council will review the contract annually and evaluate the city manager’s performance within 60 days after July 1st of each year, which will be done in accordance with specific goals developed jointly by Council and the manager.

A section states the manager may be terminated for cause by a majority vote of Council, provided that the manager is given written notice stating the cause at least ten days prior to a hearing. In the event of termination, either for cause or without cause, the contract states the parties agree to not make any disparaging comments or statements.

Suida told Council he’s looking forward to the future and taking a lead role in that future. He commented he appreciates the opportunity and looks forward to working with everyone – adding it’s been humbling to get calls from residents, past employees, and past mayor and councils. Suida has been with the City for 22 years and said he always thought relationships with the community are important but didn’t just realize how much until recently – saying he’s had a lot of support and offers of shoulders to lean on.

Suida added that he’s looking forward to leading "one of the greatest teams assembled in public service," noting the City has an accredited police department, an award-winning finance department, "a great mayor and council, and really great people from top to bottom."

Suida told Council that included with his contract is the International City/County Management Association or ICMA code of ethics. Suida said it’s already hanging on the wall in his office and something he’ll take to heart every day and it’s how he plans to lead.