Topeka City Manager resigns during council meeting

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The man who’s led the City of Topeka for little more than four years now submitted his resignation to the city council at Tuesday night’s meeting. The council then went into executive session to discuss the immediate future for the city as they begin a search for his replacement.

In the letter Colson submitted to the council, he referred to his resignation as a “difficult decision” and set his final day of work less than three weeks from Tuesday night. He acknowledged that his contract with the city runs through August 2019, but writes that he’s been away from his family for “far too long”. Colson wrote that he promised his wife that when she felt he needed to return to “full time husband status”, he would. He writes “now is the time” for him to return to his family in Arizona. Colson and his wife have lived separately the past few years as he served the city of Topeka. Colson tells KSNT News that he’s proud of the work he’s done in Topeka and called it a “truly wonderful community”. He wished the city all the best moving forward.

Colson’s ending salary is $175,134. He’ll be paid for 380 hours of unused vacation worth $31,920. The city manager is the only Topeka employee who serves directly beneath the governing body of council and mayor. They’re now tasked with figuring out a transition plan for the position he’s vacating. An interim city manager will be named and eventually a permanent city manager will be hired-likely after an extensive, nationwide search.

In a press release, the city touted “significant strides forward” under Colson’s leadership; naming an overhaul of the city’s finances, launch of open data portals, selection by Bloomberg Philanthropies as a What Works Cities, creation of several neighborhood initiatives, and initiation of community policing efforts.

Colson’s resignation doesn’t come as a complete surprise. It was just in June that Colson was one of three finalists for the city manager position in Scottsdale, Arizona. Scottsdale’s council chose not to hire any of the three but to launch a new search instead.

This past Spring Colson ignited a firestorm when he circumvented the city council to hire an interim fire chief via an on-loan contract with the city of Goodyear, Arizona. Residents and council members questioned the fact that Colson hired a man he had worked with during his own two stints with the city of Goodyear. A lawsuit over the contract hiring was filed by a former city councilman/current state legislator who is a Topeka resident. The city and Rep. John Alcala eventually reached a mutual agreement to ensure more transparency in the process for the future. Goodyear’s Assistant Chief Tim Wayne started a six month tenure at Topeka Fire in March. However, he left a scathing report detailing inter-department problems at TFD on his way out. The city released that report earlier this month.

Read more about Jim Colson’s professional past on his Linked In profile or at his City of Topeka bio page.

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