A composite photo with an image of Menifee City Hall in the background and a portrait of former City Manager Armando Villa in front of it.
The Menifee City Council last week voted unanimously to return City Manager Armando Villa to duties after being out for almost four months on paid administrative leave. (Portrait courtesy of the city of Menifee)

The Menifee City Council last week voted unanimously for City Manager Armando Villa to return to duty after nearly four months on paid administrative leave.

“The leave was required to maintain the integrity of the personnel investigation, and the preliminary findings allow for Mr. Villa to return to his duties,” Mayor Bill Zimmerman said at the Feb. 12 meeting. “The city council is especially grateful to [assistant to the city manager] Rebekah Kramer for her leadership during this time and for helping the city continue to move forward with our vital infrastructure projects, our community programs and other essential services that enhance the quality of life for our community.”

The council originally voted to place Villa on paid administrative leave last October with a 3-2 vote pending the completion of a “comprehensive and internal personnel investigation,” according Ajit Thind, who was serving as the city attorney at the time. Thind further clarified that the action was neither punitive nor disciplinary.

At the same meeting, the council unanimously voted to appoint Kramer to the role of interim city manager, which came with a temporary salary increase of $61.59 per hour.

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In an email to TN News, Public Information Officer Philip Southard said the investigation was ongoing, but the preliminary findings allowed for Villa to return to his duties. Southard said there was no immediate timeline for when the investigation would be completed.

“The details must continue to be kept confidential to protect the integrity of the investigation process,” he said. “The city will share any disclosable information with the public as updates become available.”

Zimmerman made the motion for Villa to return to his duties as city manager, effective immediately, with Mayor Pro Tem Dean Deines seconding the motion. Southard said the city was “continuing to move forward with business operations as normal.”

A full recording of the meeting can be found here on the city’s YouTube channel.

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Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.