By Peter Hegarty

Staff Writer

ALAMEDA -- City Manager Debra Kurita announced her resignation Thursday after serving in the post for three-and-half years.

Her decision comes as city officials wrestle with financial problems, including trimming about $4 million from last year's budget and having recently launched rolling brown-outs at fire stations to save money.

"The City Council members and I have met to discuss my role as city manager and the direction of the city organization," Kurita said in a written statement. "Although we share many goals for the future of this city, we do differ in the manner in which to achieve these goals."

The City Council selected Kurita in June 2005, offering her a three-year contract at about $180,000 annually.

Kurita previously worked as an assistant city manager in Santa Ana. Her background in city government stretches back 27 years.

"She has been good to work with," Mayor Beverly Johnson said Thursday. "She has had a lot of accomplishments. But there are still a lot of challenges for a city manager here. Alameda is a very complex city."

During her time as city manager, the city has seen the redevelopment of the Alameda Theatre and Cineplex -- which officials hope will provide an economic boost to downtown -- and face-lifts at Alameda Towne Centre and at the Bridgeside Center near the Fruitvale Bridge.

But redevelopment at the former Naval Air Station, which is now known as Alameda Point and makes up about one-third of the island, has been slow.


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SunCal Companies is the master developer and plans up to 4,500 homes for the site, as well as retail and other uses.

Under Kurita's watch, Alameda Power & Telecom also ditched its telecommunications arms, selling it to Comcast for $15 million in a bid to save money. Branching into video and broadband led the utility to sink more than $35 million into debt.

"I am going to miss her," City Councilwoman Marie Gilmore said. "I think she accomplished a lot while she was here and she will be missed."

Alameda police Sgt. Joe McNiff, who leads the local police union, also praised Kurita.

"She was always very approachable," McNiff said. "She was very open to any problems that we may have had and was willing to try and deal with them. I am going to be sorry to see her go."

It was not immediately clear when Kurita's resignation will take effect.

City officials are expected now to begin a search for candidates for her replacement.

Reach Peter Hegarty at phegarty@bayareanewsgroup.com or 510-748-1654.