Jason Gage has been hired as Springfield’s next city manager.
Mayor Ken McClure announced the decision during a Friday afternoon news conference. Coming from Salina, Kansas, Gage beat out Wayne Pyle of West Valley City, Utah, for the job.
Gage succeeds City Manager Greg Burris, who will step down June 30 from a 10-year term as city CEO. Burris plans to lead the city’s Give 5 senior volunteer program.
McClure highlighted Gage’s familiarity with southwest Missouri as a Lamar native, as well as his economic development and government cost-cutting efforts in Kansas.
“We believe that he’s an excellent fit for the city of Springfield, and we look forward to many, many years of his leadership as a city manager,” he said.
In Salina, Gage oversaw an annual budget of $137 million, according to information provided by Springfield officials. Salina has a population of 49,000. The proposed fiscal 2019 budget for Springfield is $366 million for the city of nearly 170,000.
Gage said it took the ingredients of an “outstanding community” to pull him away from Salina, and “Springfield’s it.”
“It doesn’t take long to talk to people, to see the community, to see what’s happening; it doesn’t take long to talk to the employees here, leadership team, to realized that those ingredients are here,” he said. “It just didn’t take long at all.”
Gage’s start date in Springfield is Aug. 1, and city officials say an interim city manager would be appointed to serve during July.
“I couldn’t pass up the possibility of being considered for the position,” Gage said of his transition.
Gage has served as Salina city manager for 13 years, previously working in city manager roles in Stillwater, Oklahoma, and De Soto, southwest of St. Louis.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, as well as a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Gage was born in the southwest Missouri city of Lamar and previously said that returning to the region serves as an overriding reason he sought the job.
As Salina city manager, he oversaw a $155 million downtown redevelopment project, which included a $12 million fieldhouse, a $19 million hotel and conference center, a $4.7 million automotive museum and new downtown housing, according to local media reports.
In 2012, Gage established a so-called continuous process improvement program, through which Salina saved some $2.9 million in city costs during the past four years, according to information provided by Springfield officials.
Runner-up Pyle oversees an annual budget of $100 million in West Valley City. The city comprises 140,000 residents.
Taking the West Valley City’s CEO post in 2002, Pyle is a former U.S. Army Reserve veteran of 20 years who worked primarily in military intelligence and civic affairs. Pyle previously said he was not actively seeking to relocate from Utah.
Springfield officials have not disclosed how many other applicants were in the running.
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