Ken Pulskamp (Courtesy city of Santa Clarita)

Ken Pulskamp (Courtesy city of Santa Clarita) (October 22, 2012)

Following weeks of closed-door meetings, the Burbank City Council on Tuesday unanimously appointed Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Pulskamp as Burbank's interim city manager.

He's slated to start on Dec. 3.

The announcement follows City Manager Mike Flad's surprising decision last month to step down from his post.

Though discussions to hire Pulskamp were secret, personnel decisions are legally shielded until being finalized.

In an email he sent to city employees, Flad describes Pulskamp as a “seasoned and respected leader” and having the “knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to successfully lead the transition of our city.”

Pulskamp announced his intent to retire from Santa Clarita in August — he's been its city manager since 2002. He officially leaves the post with that city Nov. 30.

“I'm very excited,” Pulskamp said Monday. “Burbank enjoys a tremendous reputation as a world-class city. I'm very honored to have been selected by the council.”

The city will soon start the search for a permanent city manager, a process Mayor Dave Golonski said could take six months.

Golonski said the council prioritized management experience in its hunt for an interim city manager, reaching out to a number of people to check their availability and interest.

“Ken really stood out to us,” Golonski said.

Pulskamp began working with Santa Clarita in 1988, a year after its incorporation.

“I'm really proud of the organization we've been able to create here in Santa Clarita,” Pulskamp said. “We went from a city that had very little infrastructure to one that now has over two dozen beautiful parks.”

In 2007, Santa Clarita voters approved the creation of an Open Space Preservation District, which charges property owners an annual assessment to allow the city to buy land to protect it from development.

Under Pulskamp's leadership, the city bought 7,100 acres of land in and around Santa Clarita that will remain open to prevent urban sprawl, he said.

“We've wanted to build a buffer of green space around the community,” Pulskamp said, adding that the city spent $8.5 million on property purchases.

Golonski said he was impressed with Pulskamp's financial chops.

Santa Clarita balanced and adopted its $183-million budget — with $81 million in the General Fund — on time, Pulskamp said.

“[We] did not have to make any substantive cuts to our services,” Pulskamp said, adding that in September, the city's credit rating was upgraded to AAA — the highest rating a city can receive — by credit rating company Standard & Poor's.

As Flad's last day with the city is Friday and Pulskamp isn't slated to start until Dec. 3, Burbank Fire Chief Ray Krakowski will serve as acting city manager starting next week.

“As you all know, ‘Ray K' always steps up and exceeds expectations when asked by the organization,” Flad wrote in the email.

Assistant Fire Chief Tom Lenahan will serve as acting fire chief for the next five weeks, city officials said Tuesday.

Flad's announcement last month that he would take the top post at South Gate — after more than two decades building his career in Burbank — surprised city officials and residents.

“I had hopes his plan would be to retire from the city of Burbank,” Councilman Jess Talamantes said last month. “There were some big challenges he had to deal with. As far as I was concerned, he was doing a fine job.” 

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