Jim Hartmann, Wake County manager during a period of rapid growth and achievement since 2014, said in a letter to the Board of Commissioners that he will step down today.
Hartmann said he is proud of the work he has done in Wake County since arriving here from Florida.
During most of this year, he has been involved, along with Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, in an investigation of some $900,000 missing from the county's Register of Deeds office
The probe is not the reason for his departure, he said.
"I know some will believe my resignation is connected with recent news stories or the coverage of the fraud audit and investigation into the office of another of the county's elected officials," Hartmann wrote. "That is simply not the case. I have solid integrity and thick skin."
Hartmann cited his forty-two years of public service,
almost eight years with the U.S. Coast Guard and 34 years serving local governments in various capacities. He also cited his desire to return to Central Florida, and his wife as reasons for departing.
“It’s the honor of my life to have served with Jim Hartmann,” said Sig Hutchinson, chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. “He has built a culture of leadership in Wake County. He is leaving to be with his family and leaving us in a great place.”
Hartmann and Freeman made public in March an SBI investigation of the Register of Deeds office, which had been headed for years by elected official Laura Riddick. They said that Riddick was resigning because of poor health. She has not been available for comment.
Continuing investigations have revealed sloppy accounting practices and other failings that resulted in losses that could total millions over a period as long as a decade. Freeman has said she expects the investigation to conclude in September.
In a news release, Hartmann said that October 27 will be his last day of work, the result of a decision that followed "months of thoughtful consideration" and three and half years on the job.
Freeman said she was happy that Hartmann would be able to return to his family life but regrets losing his services to the county, including in the Register of Deeds investigation.
"It has been my observation that the county manager took immediate and appropriate steps in containing the damage and addressing the concerns that have come to light in the Register of Deeds office," she said. "Also, he has been a tremendous partner in numerous initiatives important to the courts and to people in the community who are struggling with mental health issues and childhood trauma. He has been extremely dedicated to making sure that as Wake County prospered, that all our citizens had the opportunity take part in that prosperity."
The county cited Hartmann's work as leader on the passage of the Wake County Transit Plan referendum, a concentration on mental-health and substance-abuse programs, and the development of services for homeless people and others who need help.
“I’m proud of the work that the Board of Commissioners, staff and I have accomplished together during my tenure here,” Hartmann said. “Our organization has never been stronger, and I feel confident that it will continue providing innovative and excellent service to our residents in the years to come.”
Said Commissioner Greg Ford: "Everyone comes to a point in their career when it's time to consider retirement. Jim and I spoke this afternoon, and I shared my respect and appreciation for his many years of public service. I wish Jim and his family the very best in his upcoming retirement."
Hartmann said he intends to work with county leaders during the next two months in finding someone to fill his position.