Lovettsville Town Manager Rob Ritter has been fired from his post after two years in town.
The Lovettsville Town Council on Thursday night, following a closed session, voted 5-1 to fire Ritter and appoint former town manager Sam Finz in the role on an interim basis. Councilman Buchanan Smith was the only member to vote against.
“This council has determined that it’s in the best interest of the town to go in a different direction,” said Mayor Nate Fontaine. “… This is solely just to head in a different direction.”
In his Nov. 20 email newsletter, Fontaine recognized a few projects the town completed under Ritter’s management: The town implemented virtual meetings, brought the new town office building project close to completion and replaced its antiquated water meters with new radio-read meters. Ritter also developed “conservative” budgets and worked with the town staff to refinance debt.
The Town Council in November 2018 voted unanimously to appoint Ritter among a pool of 41 applicants for the job. He was paid $103,000 at the outset and replaced Larry Hughes, who managed the town on an interim basis for three months following Finz’s July 2018 retirement.
Ritter previously worked as the town manager of Dumfries from May 2017 to August 2018, where the Town Council also voted to fire him. Ritter said that vote took place because three new council members and a new mayor “wanted to go in new direction.”
Prior to that, Ritter worked as the town manager in Chincoteague from June 2006 to November 2016. The Town Council there also voted to fire him. Ritter said that a new mayor and council wanting to go in a different direction also was the driving force behind that vote.
For Finz, this will be his fourth time stepping into the post in a dozen years.
He started his latest stint with a meeting with Fontaine today. He said he was unaware the council had voted the night before to appoint him as interim town manager, but knew that vote could come up, since he had told town leaders when he left in July 2018 that they could call on him for help should something change.
“I’ve always been dedicated to the town,” he said, emphasizing that he had no idea what happened to Ritter.
Finz will report back to the town office this Monday, Nov. 23 to begin his part-time job managing the town’s day-to-day operations and helping to recruit a new permanent town manager—a role he said he’s not looking to fill.
“I don’t think that’s something I really want to do,” he said.
Finz has been involved with the Lovettsville town government since 2005. He has worked as the town planner, as a general consultant and as the interim town manager on three separate occasions. In 2005, he helped the Town Council hire its first town manager, Tim Faust. When Faust left the town a year later, Finz again helped recruit Keith Markel for the position. In 2014, when Markel left to take a job as Leesburg’s deputy town manager, Finz returned to help recruit yet another town manager, Laszlo Palko.
Finz took on the role of interim town manager for a third time when Palko resigned in summer 2017 to become the city manager of Manassas Park. In December 2017, the Town Council appointed Finz as permanent town manager. He resigned July 6, 2018 for health-related reasons.