Cape Girardeau City Manager Doug Leslie answers media questions following his retirement announcement Tuesday, January 6, 2008, at City Hall.
Leslie leaves his post after 19-plus years with the city. He moved to Cape Girardeau in March 1990 from a job as city manager of Nevada, Mo. Originally hired as the city assistant public works director, Leslie moved quickly through the ranks, taking over as director of public works in July 1990 and adding the title of assistant city manager on Oct. 1, 1993. He was named interim city manager for three months in 1995, then was given the job permanently in September 2003 following the firing of Michael Miller.
The retirement announcement was surprising in its timing but not in its substance. Ken Eftink, director of planning services, was recently named assistant city manager and recent salary increases for Leslie have been approved at least in part to raise the competitive position of the city as it searches for Leslie's successor.
Leslie announced his decision to retire at a news conference held at noon in city hall. Eftink was announced as the interim city manager.
Leslie leaves at a time when city finances are strained due to stagnant sales tax revenue. He came under fire in November when cost of living raises for city workers were canceled, but negotiations with police came to light that promised officers a series of pay hikes outside the salary freeze.
Leslie received a 4 percent pay increase in September but turned down a larger increase of more than 8 percent.
During Leslie's tenure with the city, voters have approved a series of tax increases. The first, a sales tax for road construction, was approved while he was public works director. Others increases, including a sales tax for public safety departments and a sales tax for park and storm water improvements, have also been successfully sold to voters.
The city has also expanded its borders and added new retail areas, such as the developments along Siemers Drive that have been supported by city tax abatements.