Bill Vance, Pickerington's city manager for the past eight years, said he left office May 31 after he wasn't able to come to terms with the mayor and City Council on a new two-year contract.

A press release issued by the city at 4:52 p.m. June 1 announced Vance had "left office," effective May 31.

Statements in the release from both Vance and Pickerington Mayor Lee Gray confirmed the announcement, with Vance saying, "now seemed like a good time for me to pursue new local government experiences elsewhere, knowing that the city of Pickerington is in great shape and in the hands of dedicated and successful leaders."

In a telephone interview June 4, Vance said he didn't resign from his post but chose to exit after he was unable to reach an agreeable contract extension with city leaders.

"We negotiate extensions every couple years in Pickerington," Vance said. "I put forth a figure, but the mayor was unable to come forth with an agreement from City Council on that figure."

In both his press statement and interview, Vance lauded Gray and City Council members for their leadership and for helping to bring progress to the city.

Vance expressed no ill will toward the officials but said after serving as Pickerington's city manager since June 2010, the time might be right for someone new to take the reins.

"The city has been transformed into a very successful place to work and invest," Vance said. "That's due to the mayor and City Council policies, and I like to think I played a part in that, as well.

"Eight years in any one place, that's a pretty good run for a city manager."

Among the Pickerington achievements Vance said he was proud of were the growth of the city's budget reserves -- sometimes called a "rainy-day fund" -- from approximately $2 million to $5.8 million.

In December, the Ohio Auditor's Office gave Pickerington a "positive outlook" rating on each of 17 "financial health indicators."

Those ratings were the highest marks given by the auditor's office and were the equivalent to straight A's on the city's financial report card.

Additionally, Vance said the city expanded its income-tax revenues by approximately $2 million during his time as city manager without raising its 1 percent income tax.

In the June 1 press release, Gray stated, "Bill Vance has done an exceptional job during his time as Pickerington's city manager and he is one of the largest parts of the city's successes over the past eight years.

"It has been an honor working alongside him and I wish him nothing but the best going forward in his career."

Reached later by telephone, Gray said Vance has "been a great asset to the city of Pickerington," adding he thought Vance would have "a lot of success" in whatever his next venture might be.

At the time of his departure, Vance's annual salary was $143,263 and he received annual benefits, including a car allowance, medical insurance and deferred compensation, worth another $65,223.

Vance said he recently signed a new two-year extension that would've kept him with the city through May 31, 2020 "out of respect for the mayor" but that the salary increase offered by Gray and Council "did not represent what I had in mind."

After consideration and additional discussions, Gray said, he decided not to execute the contract, which he said would have extended the same annually salary increase of roughly 2 percent that is being given to all of the city's nonunion employees.

"What I didn't want to happen was to have a city manager with one foot in the door and one foot out," Gray said. "We need to have somebody who's intent is to be here.

"At the end of the day, I chose not to sign that contract. I did that because we needed to do what is best for the city and everyone involved."

Per Vance's prior contract, approved in March 2016, he will receive a severance package of six months' salary and all unused sick leave, vacation and holiday pay.

He's also entitled to six months of health, prescription drug, dental and vision insurance.

"That provides me time to investigate my opportunities," Vance said.

Prior to leaving office, Vance appointed Pickerington Service Director Ed Drobina as "acting" city manager until an "interim" was appointed by Gray.

On June 4, Gray said he appointed Frank Wiseman, a former service director for Pickerington and Westerville, as the interim city manager.

Wiseman may remain the interim appointee for up to 60 days, at which point Gray would make an appointment that also requires City Council approval.

The mayor also is charged with selecting a full-time city manager, and that selection also requires City Council approval.

"(Wiseman) has some familiarity with Pickerington and has experience in Westerville," Gray said. "He seemed like he would be a good interim city manager."