GRANTS – After being employed with the City of Grants for 24 years, City Manager Robert “Bob” Horacek is calling it quits.
At the end of Tuesday evening’s city meeting Horacek announced his retirement to the four councilors and Mayor Joe Murrietta.
“I believe that my departure comes at a time when the City of Grants has established itself with a sound financial base and a positive future,” Horacek said in a letter to Mayor Murrietta. “I am pleased to have been a part of this process.”
Councilors appeared surprised at the announcement and Murrietta, for the most part, appeared concerned. “I’ll tell you what,” said the Mayor to the Beacon, “the city is losing one good man.”
Horacek was hired as head of Finance and Administration in 1989.
“I am thoroughly grateful for the initial opportunity,” Horacek said late Wednesday.
In 2000, Mayor Bill Snodgrass saw some interest from Horacek for the vacant city manager position and next thing you know, Horacek was appointed.
Cliff Lear was city manager until he passed away in 1999. The position was vacant until Horacek accepted it in June of 2000.
His appointment was approved by the council, three to one.
Horacek said he never thought of becoming a city manager out of college. “The thought never crossed my mind. The good Lord put an average guy and took my weaknesses and made them my strengths,” he said.
Horacek is a 1978 Grants High School Graduate. He was born and raised in Grants.
Bob said he remembers many nights when Jamie Holton would come knocking at the Horacek’s door to get a Chamber of Commerce check signed. Bob’s father was a former administrator of the City of Grants.
“I grew up in this world. This community was good to my father and its been good to me,” said Horacek. “My father loved Grants and that eventually grew on me.”
Why retirement? Horacek simply said because it’s time. “I’ve been doing it (city manager) for 13 years and there are some things out there that indicate it is time to go.
“The relationships I’ve been able to develop over the years are great. The governing body’s, the people and most and foremost, the employees of the City of Grants – they are the most valuable asset of the city.”
Horacek’s resignation is effective Tuesday, April 30. He said he has no real “big” plans following retirement besides spending more time with family and a little more travel with his wife.
At age 50 in 2010, he married Julie, now an employee at the county.
Julie jokingly said, “And, some honey do’s.”
Horacek said he plans on not working until maybe after about six months. “Maybe I’ll find another passion, another itch,” he said. “I don’t want to close any doors.”
A big inspiration for Horacek has been his father. Following his fathers passing several years ago, Bob has given much thought to life.
“My father passed away at 87,” said Horacek. “Two weeks before he passed he wrote some notes while praying at St. Teresa Avila Catholic Church in Grants. They read: ‘Forgiveness constitutes the only possible link between human beings, and between human beings and God. The rainbow between God and humanity is forgiveness… forgiveness is a real challenge.’ There is much thought here,” said Horacek. “I want to sit down, be calm and put some thought into what my dad meant and just appreciate life.”
Lastly, Horacek said he wanted to thank his family as they have been very supportive over the last 25 years of his experiences at the City of Grants.
Former mayor and councilman, Ronald Ortiz, a close friend of Horaceks, said, “His advocacy for employees has always impressed me. When he started our cash reserve was at $385,000, today it’s over $5 million. Bob was a big part of that. This is great for capital projects. The projects going on now, such as all the road construction, are only possible because of a great staff of which Bob was leader. He will be missed.”
Judy, Horacek’s wife, said, “On reflection I think Bob will do what he has always done at work and home. He is a man of service and would seek out work that is of service to others. He had this throughout his life in small and big ways. And I feel he will continue to do this for the rest of his life.”
She also noted that her husband is proud of the City of Grants and its citizens and will watch with delight as this community grows and develops even further.
Mayor Murrietta said, “I’ve never seen anyone with as good a financial background as Bob has. He’s kept the City of Grants in good financial shape. I’m going to miss him. The good audits during past years are a reflection of the good administration.”
Murrietta explained that from what he has learned from the City Charter, he has 45 days to appoint a replacement. If more than 45 days, it is possible that the mayor will need the four council members’ approval, according to the charter.