Treasurer Felt Spurned By City Hall
Manassas Park Official Quit 8 Days After Election
By Michele Clock
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 20, 2004; Page PW01
The $40,000 pay cut would have been fine with him.
What turned Noel Montesa off the elected position as treasurer of Manassas Park, he said, was what he saw at City Hall.
Eight days after Montesa, 45, won the city's special election May 4, he announced that he would not take the $55,000-a-year job.
"It was something I wanted to do," Montesa said. But "my probability of failure was pretty high."
Montesa said he faced a City Council that didn't give the level of support and autonomy that he would need to succeed, a treasurer's office gripped by low morale, and the sudden resignation of his would-be chief deputy treasurer, Julie Kieffer.
Montesa's resignation is the latest twist in an ongoing struggle to fill Manassas Park's treasurer position. Ever since Linda Adams, a part-time cashier at Giant, stepped down as treasurer during her elected term in February 2000, the office has had a revolving door.
"It takes a very special person to interact and provide customer service, and because of the nature of the job, they need that background of accounting and economics," Vice Mayor Kevin P. Brendel said. "Then when you weigh that against what the state says the salary should be, it's not a very appealing job."
Last fall, the City Council discussed changing the post from an elected office to a hired position. Then-Mayor William Treuting (I) filed a petition to put the item to vote May 4, but the required signatures were never collected.
Montesa, who has 27 years of financial experience, said he will remain as finance director for the American Roentgen Ray Society in Leesburg, a job he was prepared to quit to become treasurer. He said the final straw came May 12 when Kieffer quit.
"I needed [her] for those first six months of transition," he said. "She was my guarantee to success."
Even before he was elected, Montesa said he began to have serious doubts about the job. At a City Council meeting April 21, Montesa said he was unfairly denied a chance to speak.
"The rationale was, I was a candidate grandstanding in front of the camera," said Montesa, who was unopposed in the special election. "That was the first time I got really turned off."
Brendel said the City Council had no choice because, under meeting rules, candidates cannot speak outside of citizens time unless they already hold an office or are city employees. Montesa was told as much at the time, Brendel said.
Montesa said he learned after the election that City Council members considered cutting back staffing in the treasurer's office because of budget concerns. Montesa said he didn't understand why he wasn't part of that discussion.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company