TRAVERSE CITY — Former city manager Ben Bifoss is a finalist to take over the helm of another community, five months after he told city commissioners he was retiring for good.
Bifoss, 59, is a finalist for a city manager position in Belgrade, Mont. The town is half the size of Travese City and is located in southwest Montana where his daughter lives.
Bifoss spent four and a half years at Traverse City before he retired in June. The Belgrade job pays between $85,000 and $110,000 annually, plus benefits. Bifoss made $102,000 in Traverse City.
An executive search firm contacted Mayor Michael Estes for a reference on Monday.
“I was shocked to learn he was looking for a new job” Estes said. “The way he left it was he loved the Traverse City job. He commonly told people ‘life is too short.’” He just wanted to retire, travel for a year and then just hunt, fish and smell the roses.”
Bifoss paused when asked why he decided to abandon his retirement.
“I don’t frankly know,” he said.
Bifoss and his wife did some traveling, and spent seven weeks on the road visiting his two grown daughters.
“I lived in Montana once and we both really enjoyed it,” Bifoss said. “Traveling this summer ... we both decided if we were ever going to relocate, it would be within 25 miles of Belgrade.”
Bifoss said he did some research when he arrived back home in Manistee and discovered Belgrade officials sought a city manager. Even if he doesn’t get the job Bifoss said he and his wife are still considering relocating to Belgrade.