Petaluma?s chief building official was found dead Tuesday morning, sending shockwaves through a city staff that was already preparing to say good-bye to him because of budget cuts.

Cliff Kendall, an eight-year veteran of the community development department, died of an apparent suicide, officials said.

He was a week away from being let go from his job, along with 11 other planning staff members, because of a lack of building revenue coming into city coffers. The City Council reluctantly approved the layoffs last week.

Mayor Pamela Torliatt said city employees were devastated to hear of Kendall?s death Tuesday.

?It?s a very sad day for us,? Torliatt said. ?Cliff was extremely well liked in the city and the community.?

Vice Mayor David Rabbitt said Kendall was admired for his work as the city?s top building inspector.

?He was a master at working with people for an outcome that was good for the city, good for health and safety and good for the tenant,? Rabbitt said. ?He always looked for a solution to the problem.?

The city is sending its condolences to Kendall?s family, Torliatt said.

?This is certainly an event we are all so saddened to hear about happening in our city,? she said. ?Every member of our city staff was devastated to hear the news.?

At the time of his death, city officials were contemplating a ?golden handshake? and early retirement for Kendall in place of the planned layoff, Torliatt and Rabbitt said.

The status of that offer was not known, they said.