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City Manager Musical Chairs: Bruner's Departure Narrows Field in Huntington Woods

Bob Bruner served as Ferndale's city manager for four years before moving to Birmingham in 2011. He was a finalist for the Huntington Woods job before he withdrew his name from consideration.

City Manager Musical Chairs: Bruner's Departure Narrows Field in Huntington Woods

Bob Bruner offered an email apology to residents of Birmingham, where he’s the city manager, and said he’s no longer interested in taking a similar job in Huntington Woods, narrowing the finalists to three who will be interviewed Tuesday.

The current Huntington Woods city manager, Alex R. Allie, is retiring after serving in the position for a quarter of a century.

Bruner’s contract with Birmingham expires next month and he hadn’t yet reached an agreement with his current employers, prompting him to look at Huntington Woods, the Observer & Eccentric reports.

However, in a Friday email, he said he had reconsidered and that the Birmingham City Commision is, “in many respects … the best governing body I have ever had the privilege of working with.”

“I want to apologize to the community and city staff or unnecessarily subjecting them to this period of uncertainty,” he wrote in the email.”I hope to reach an agreement with the Birmingham City Commission. … In the meantime, I want to focus on the important and urgent projects here in Birmingham that require my time and attention.”

Bruner has been city manager in Birmingham since 2011. Before that, he served as Ferndale’s top administrator.

His departure from the field of finalists means Huntington Woods officials will have one less candidate to consider in interviews planned for Tuesday night. The other three finalists are:

Franklin Village Administrator Amy Sullivan, Marine City Manager John Gabor and former South Lyon Manager David Murphy.

“I wish the other candidates and the community in Huntington Woods the best of luck,” Bruner said after removinghis name from consideration Friday. “It’s a great community.”

Bruner currently earns $118,000 and the Birmingham City Commission offered him an annual salary of $130,000 an 11 percent raise. Bruner reportedly rejected the proposal, and there has been no counter offer.

Birmingham City Commissioner Stuart Sherman said Bruner’s decision to apply for the job in Huntington Woods was not considered in the city’s position regarding the contract.

“His decision to apply in Huntington Woods really had no bearing on our decision as a City Commission,” Sherman told the newspaper. “We didn’t know he had applied in the first place and the fact he withdrew really doesn’t change anything. That would be his personal decision.”

When Allie announced his pending departure in August, Mayor Ronald Gillham said he has been “the lifeblood of the city for 24 years.”

"We knew it was going to happen sometime, but we hate to see him go," Gillham said. "He has been an outstanding city manager for us, the county and the state, in my opinion.

“We will miss him no matter how competent and good the quote unquote replacement is," the mayor said at the time.

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