Abbotsford city manager Frank Pizzuto offered his surprise resignation Tuesday.
According to a press release issued late Tuesday afternoon, Pizzuto will leave his post effective Jan. 4, 2013.
Pizzuto could not be reached for comment about why he tendered his resignation.
Mayor Bruce Banman wouldn't speak to the specific reasons for Pizzuto's departure or specify whether or not it had been anticipated.
"The timing was a bit of a surprise," said Banman.
"They were personal reasons, and it's not appropriate for me to speak to why he left."
He also wouldn't comment on whether or not Pizzuto was asked to resign.
Pizzuto joined the City of Abbotsford in June of 2008 just months before former mayor George Peary was elected in November.
Pizzuto, a former chief administrative officer of Amherstburg, Ont., and the past GM of downtown development and community services for the City of Kitchener, became Abbotsford's top civil servant at a time when several lightning rod issues came to a head.
Both Pizzuto and Peary came on board with the city to deal with the completion of the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, end negotiations on the controversial Abbotsford Heat deal and spearhead the failed referendum around the proposed P3 Stave Lake water project - all of which occurred during a global recession and heightened taxpayer fatigue.
Peary was not re-elected as mayor in the November 2011 civic elections, which featured the Stave Lake referendum, and many pundits cited water issues as the reason voters punished him.
Banman, who gained office with Peary's defeat, dismissed notions that Pizzuto's resignation was linked to tension between the two of them.
"I can tell you I very much enjoyed working with Frank and his love for the City of Abbotsford was apparent everyday.
"We had open and honest discussions with one another and in my opinion, we were a team that worked well together."
Banman agreed Pizzuto's reign as city manager occurred during a perfect storm of difficult issues that may have contributed to his resignation.
"You'd have to ask Frank but it would not surprise me," said Banman.
"It's been an incredibly stressful time to be at the city and it'd be hard to think it wasn't one, but not the only consideration."
Banman dismissed the idea that citizens' discontent with the AESC, Heat subsidy, economic climate and tax regime would be alleviated by Pizzuto's departure, or that he was the city's sacrificial lamb for public anger.
"I don't expect [the discontent] to subside because the problems with all those issues still exist," he said.
"But it may change some opinions that change at the city is possible."
However, he noted Pizzuto worked hard every day to address the difficult issues, particularly the AESC, and achieved a measure of success.
Pizzuto was the city's highest-paid staff member, earning $249,005 in 2011.
Banman said that Pizzuto's severance details are still being worked out.
"But they will be in keeping for a position such as Frank's," he said.
Jim Gordon, general manager of engineering and utilities, assumes the role of acting city manager.
Banman said it's too early to speculate on who might replace Pizzuto but an announcement is expected to be made in the new year.
Despite Pizzuto's departure the city was looking to the future and the road ahead, said Banman.
"I look at the exit of Mr. Pizzuto as an opportunity to do better and look at it as a challenge and opportunity for growth," he said.
"I truly wish him all the success and happiness in the world. His passion for the city has never been in question."