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Fire Department Chief Mitch Snyder resigns

April 29, 2022

City of Gresham Fire Department Chief Mitch Snyder submitted his resignation on April 13, effective as of May 6. In compliance with a public records request made by The Gresham Outlook, a copy of Chief Snyder’s resignation letter has been released.

The City of Gresham supports employees raising good faith concerns about the workplace and actively works to examine them when made. The City respectfully disagrees with the concerns raised in Chief Snyder’s letter regarding the budget and City Leadership, which we believe do not tell a full or accurate story.

While Gresham as a whole has experienced budgetary challenges over the past few years, we have sought to work openly and collaboratively as an organization in order to build understanding and create equitable solutions across the City. A review of City Council agendas and meeting videos, which are available online, clearly show City staff has been transparent with the Council regarding challenges with the Fire Department budget, and the recommendations made to Council display an intentional effort to avoid significant service reductions to the Police, Fire, and Parks departments.

Specifically, at the April 5 Council Work Session, staff noted the numerous challenges faced by all departments across the City and cited the challenges Fire and Emergency Services face in attempting to provide adequate response times as well as the need for more modern fire stations. In addition, at the April 21 Budget Committee presentation, Deputy City Manager Corey Falls noted the department's funding challenges and specifically cited a goal for the coming year to “identify immediate short-term funding to maintain appropriate staffing and training.” Gresham is committed to continuing to support the day-to-day work of our Fire Department employees who are dedicated to serving this community.

Every effort has been made to secure funding for the Fire Department, despite the City’s significant fiscal challenges. For example, in fiscal year 2021/22, budget targets were provided at the beginning of the budget development process. Departments were directed to submit budgets that were at or below the target provided. The Fire Department’s initial budget submission was $245,000 above the target, which was ultimately approved. The 2021/22 fiscal year supplemental budget included $456,000 to hold a Fire Academy and add new firefighters. Additionally, $1.54 million has been allocated to the Fire Department through American Rescue Plan Act funds by City Council to date.

Like many other entities across the country, the Gresham City Council has tasked the City Manager and employees with implementing new approaches to better serve our growing community in a more efficient and equitable manner. This work requires departments to closely and collaboratively work together to ensure the City as a whole is moving toward the same goals. Deputy City Manager Corey Falls, who has overseen Gresham Fire and Emergency Services since April 2021, has been doing the hard work to oversee and implement this direction.

The City of Gresham supports Deputy City Manager Corey Falls. Since coming onboard in 2017, Deputy City Manager Falls has served Gresham with the utmost integrity providing fiscal responsibility and leadership through the courage of his convictions. The City is proud of the many accomplishments Deputy City Manager Falls has achieved. Just since 2021, he has:

  • Advocated for and secured $5.1 million in ARPA funds to support critical Police and Fire staffing needs.
  • Led the implementation of the City’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program, including the Council resolution, program development, and the hire of the City's first staff person dedicated to DEI work.
  • Initiated the Fire Department Standards of Cover review to provide an independent analysis to determine where the Gresham Fire Department is meeting modern fire and related standards, current best practices, determine where there is need for improvement, provide recommendations to implement best practices and expectations set by the Council, and identify any barriers to implementing best practices.
  • Responded to the community and Council priorities by initiating the process of assessing Police Department staffing, calls for service, community engagement and service delivery. The end result will be a strategic plan for the Police Department that will be informed by community input.
  • Worked with departments to develop three-year operational plans, including capital needs assessments. He supported and strongly advocated to City Council the need for these additional resources to ensure more adequate resources for Fire, Police and Human Resources. This three-year plan, which the City is working on revenue solutions for, includes the proposed addition of 12 firefighters.

We are grateful for Deputy City Manager Falls’ tireless work and dedication to City staff and the community of Gresham alike.

As this situation involves a personnel matter and potential litigation, the City will not be commenting further.

About Gresham

Gresham is a welcoming community of hard-working people where tradition and heritage meet innovation and opportunity in Oregon's fourth largest city. Gresham’s residents care deeply about our roots as a homestead and agricultural community and are committed to building a vibrant future. Today, Gresham is a dynamic, innovative, and rapidly growing city with a desire to thrive. In Gresham, we are family. Visit us on Twitter @CityofGresham