Adelanto City Council

Adelanto City Manger Jim Hart’s seat remained empty during Wednesday’s city council meeting as Hart is on leave. (David Pardo, Daily Press)

Posted Feb. 12, 2015 @ 8:19 am

ADELANTO —Adelanto City Manager Jim Hart is taking a two-week leave of absence while using up accrued personal time, he said Wednesday night after he did not attend the open session of the City Council meeting.

“I have time on the books that needs to be used up,” he said. “I’ll be out for two weeks.”

City Attorney Todd Litfin said Hart was taking a “management leave” and there was no reportable action following the City Council’s closed-session performance evaluation of Hart. Two council members said previously they believed a change at the top was needed.

Hart said he attended the closed-session meeting but left soon afterward.

“I was there but let them know I needed to use the time, so they excused me tonight and next meeting,” Hart said. “The council has the right to evaluate me at any time, so I look at this as them exercising their right to provide input to me. They are entitled to their opinion. That is why there are performance evaluation processes, so they can share their thoughts. The more appropriate way to do that is in the closed session and not the newspaper.”

When asked about Hart’s leave, Councilman Jermaine Wright said, “Change is coming.” Hart’s nameplate was missing from the dias, and former Mayor Cari Thomas said, “The writing is on the wall.”

Just hours before the council meeting, Adelanto Mayor Rich Kerr asked Hart to deliver a State of the City address to the local Chamber of Commerce at Stater Bros. Stadium. Kerr said he thought Hart was the “best person” he could choose to give the presentation.

“I made a last-minute decision when I saw everybody here,” Kerr said inside the packed conference room. “I wasn’t at that point to give this presentation. … (Hart) was the best person I could pick to present this to the chamber to get everything across to you in the proper way.”

Hart delivered a PowerPoint presentation of the city’s recent activities, saving information about Adelanto’s fiscal emergency to the end.

“The city’s finances … I’m not going to spend a long time on this,” he said. “We’ve been talking about this back and forth for years; the city struggles financially. The bottom line is that the tax revenue that comes into the city doesn’t sustain the cost of services being provided.”

Hart said the city’s annual tax revenue is equal to about $4.5 million and its $2.6 million deficit is compounded by a $4.9 million contract with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department to provide public safety protection, in addition to other city contracts.

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