On the brink of his retirement, Highland City Manager Mark Latham has been reeled back into service.
Latham, who has been Highland’s city manager for the last 12 years, had turned in his letter of resignation last month, stating his intent to retire from his position in May. After retiring, Latham was planning to move back to his home state of Arkansas with his wife. But his ambition to finish what he started made him think twice.
“I am still very fortunate that I am healthy,” Latham said. “I still have the desire to serve here and (to serve) the citizens of Highland.” Latham said.
Highland Mayor Joe Michaelis said Latham had approached each council member some weeks ago and spoke to them about his intention to stay and get their feedback on the subject.
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By law, Latham’s letter of resignation cannot be rescinded without the approval of the city council. That was why last week, Latham’s name was on the agenda. Council members unanimously approved the rescinding of Latham’s resignation letter and accepted his declaration to continue serving as city manager. Latham’s current contract would have expired on April 30. The council agreed to extend Latham’s deal for four years, though details have yet to be voted on. In 2015, Latham’s total compensation from the city was $132,446.43.
“I think the council is pleased, as well as I am, to have him stay on,” Michaelis said. “I think Mark has done a really good job with the city.”
Reasons to stay
Love for the community
When Latham first came to work in Highland, he was actually downsizing from a larger community. However, Latham did not see this new position as a demotion and said he actually prefers serving a smaller community.
Latham said he feels more in tune with serving a small community. It helps him to actually know the people he is serving. It makes him feel more comfortable knowing who he is talking to, and it helps him to better understand the needs of the community.
Latham also said his passion to serve people would never truly let him retire in the full sense of the word.
“I don’t know if I could ever do that,” Latham said. “I love what I do. Highland is a great community.”
Projects to complete
Though he does not — nor would he — take credit for them, many civic improvements have been accomplished over Latham’s tenure as city manager, including the building of the new St. Joseph’s Hospital, completion of the city’s peripheral route, the development of the city’s fiber-to-the-premises project and the founding of a city-owned communications company, among others.
But seeing the unfinished projects he has been working on over the years come to fruition was one of the main reasons Latham chose to stay on as city manager.
Latham said he felt like he could not walk away without seeing several things completed, such as finishing improvements to the city wastewater system, construction of a new roundabout at St. Rose and Iberg roads, overseeing the fight with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) over its Map Modernization Program, improving Oak Street, and improving the watershed spread of sediment in Silver Lake.