City of Alpine finance director resigns; council fails to quorum

ALPINE – City Finance Director Megan Antrim has resigned in a dispute over City Manager Jessica Garza’s management style, and City Council failed to get a quorum to consider the resignation Tuesday evening. At the called time for the meeting, only two councilors were present, Mayor Pro Tem Rick Stephens and Lucy Escovedo. Stephens said Wednesday that Mayor Andy Ramos had a doctor’s appointment, Ramon Olivas was in a meeting in Presidio and Betty Fitzgerald said she was “tired.” Maria Curry was on vacation “but she was on Skype from a Barnes and Noble store in Portland,” Oregon, Stephens said. “She was prepared to discuss and vote and that would have constituted a quorum,” he said. In her letter, Antrim said she does not foresee the city changing for the better. “I would have submitted this directly to my supervisor but she has not talked with me for the past five months, answered very few emails and is most often not in the office or provides any information where she is,” she wrote. “The ability to perform my job has been made impossible with the lack of communication, direction and misinformed information provided by my supervisor to departments, Council and the public.” Garza has been ordered not to talk to the media but earlier she told me the previous city manager “had each department as a kind of kingdom and didn’t work together. When I came in, I decided to change it so we all worked together. We all work for the city.” She said several department heads pushed back against the new direction and some of them complained to city council members. The previous city manager Erik Zimmer told me over the weekend that he worked with Antrim during his entire tenure as city manager. “Within the first month of working at the city, I was able to promote Megan into the finance director role and ultimately to assistant city manager based on her growth and development,” he said. “She is highly intelligent and cares deeply about the quality of work she produces and, most importantly, about the health of Alpine,” Zimmer said. “We had a very nice working relationship – we challenged each other on important issues for the city and always understood that looking at critical items from multiple angles helped us discern the best path for the city,” he said Zimmer said the loss of leaders like Code Enforcement Officer Robert Polanco, Street Department Director Hector Ramirez and Antrim “put a real void in key positions for the city as they all brought a special concerted level of leadership to Alpine and are part of the ‘roots’ of the community.” Antrim said her health and well-being are more important than continuing to work in what she called a “hostile work environment” but she left the door open to her continued service. She said the City will continue to grow and do exciting things as long as the right people are in place. “I am prepared to continue with the city as long as the city manager treats myself and others properly and respectfully,” she wrote. “I have made huge strides with the city, am a resident of Alpine and do not wish to see the city go back to where it was when I started.” Zimmer and Antrim have been credited with creating a sound financial footing for the city, which had a history of problems, including a debt of more than nearly $7 million in a then $11 million budget. Past irregularities have included resignations, criminal charges and councils that would just issue certificates of obligation when they could not figure how to finance something, ballooning the debt.