PAGE – The City Council last Wednesday opted to not renew Michael Celaya’s contract as city manager. Celaya started the position July 23, 2018.
Page Power and Water General Manager Bryan Hill on July 29 agreed to take the position while the city searches for a new city manager.
According to a July 25 press release from City Hall, “The Page City Council met in executive session (Wednesday night) opted not to continue their contract with City Manager Michael Celaya. Effective as of 8 a.m. (Thursday morning), Mr. Celaya is no longer employed by the City of Page. The decision rendered by the Council was not for any specific cause and the separation was amicable.”
Celaya talked with the Chronicle last year on July 21, a few days before taking his new position. He promised he’d embrace the vision and values of the City of Page, which prioritizes the quality of life for Page residents. “I can’t wait to work with staff to bring those priorities to fruition,” he said. “The [city government] is a high performing organization with financial stability. I really appreciate their vision and values because under that area you’ll see accountability and being transparent to the residents, also, being financially responsible are key areas that really is the cornerstone of what I value.
Improving the infrastructure and improving housing are the big issue there. I will work with the community to develop that.”
Celaya received both criticism and praise during his short time as city manager.
People who worked closely with him on community development generally spoke highly of him.
The Page Public Library cuts was a troublesome issue for Celaya. Citizens voiced concerns regularly at council meetings regarding library cuts. In private conversations, some library advocates expressed outrage and disdain toward him.
This reporter attempted to meet with Celaya on several occasions to understand his side of the issues. The requests were ignored. Others have voiced concerns about his closed-door approach to management, and hope the successor is more transparent and open with the public.
Celaya’s seat is a high-pressure job. Research shows many city managers move around from city to city, only staying a year or two. When a city council changes members, priorities and expectation change as well.
The City of Page thanked Celaya “for his leadership and service to our community during the past year” and wished him “best of luck in his future endeavors.”