VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint Tom Leahy as its interim city manager.
July 16, 2020, would mark 40 years of employment for Leahy with the city. Last week he was named by resigning city manager Dave Hansen to run the city.
“In the past there has always been someone to back me up…now?,” Leahy joked in an interview Tuesday before acknowledging what he calls incredible support from city staff. “There is a lot this city does right, and has been doing right for a very, very long time, so I will be continuing that.”
Leahy takes over in a trying time for the city.
Hansen’s resignation was called about by several community groups and council members upset with his leadership style. At the same time the city is trying to find itself in the wake of the mass shooting that left 12 dead and 4 injured in Building 2 on May 31st. An independent investigation is now ongoing.
“The city has been on a track of investigations and opening up a VB Strong Center, and doing what we can to help the families … what we are working on now we are evaluating facilities for public works, public utilities and IT. We have to get these departments together again to function properly.”
On Tuesday however, Leahy’s focus was on the pending Hurricane Dorian. A topic he has had decades of experience with.
For almost 20 years, Leahy was in the critical role of water resources manager for the Lake Gaston Pipeline, which brings drinking water to the beach.
As deputy city manager he oversaw the departments of Public Works and Utilities and has been leading the charge in making the city less flood prone.
“Our organization is excellent from top to bottom.,” Leahy said. “We do a lot of things right. We respond to every event we respond to well. We did in 5-31 and we will respond well to the storm. We are VBStrong.”
Leahy, who originally planned to retire in January, said he told Mayor Bobby Dyer he would stay on until a new city manager is found.
Until that time, Leahy will be given a 10 percent salary increase to run the city, which works out to nearly $18,000 per month, according to city salary data.
Prior to his appointment however, Hansen’s resignation needed to be accepted.
Councilwoman Barbara Henley, Princess Anne District, was the lone member to vote against accepting the resignation.
“Just not able to be silent when I see an injustice being done,” Henley read from the dias in a prepared statement. “This recent deliberate, organized assault of Mr. Hansen’s service as city manager … is disgusting.”
“Maybe sometimes the enthusiasm caused a trip up of speech, but let him who never misspoke cast the first stone,” Henley said. “To all of the staff, let me lay claim, this council member has not lost confidence in you.”
Hansen’s contract provides six months pay, which works out to just over $130,000.