City, citizens make wish list for new manager

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Over the next few weeks, the city’s recruiter will be sifting through resumes for Carlos Urrutia’s replacement. Urrutia is retiring in December after 26 years as Rocklin’s city manager. He’s been managing the city during unprecedented growth and recessionary budget shortfalls that have led to citywide cutbacks and layoffs. Right now the city of Rocklin’s total budget is nearly $52 million with a total of 238 city workers as well as a full service police and fire department. Rocklin City Council came to a consensus on what they wanted in a city manager and published it in a recruitment brochure. Besides the requirement of a bachelor’s degree, an advanced degree is a “plus,” the city explains they want someone who has a genuine concern for preserving the quality of life presently offered to residents. The candidate must also have extensive experience in city government and managing people. “The city council is seeking a creative individual to employ a team approach to problem solving, and be proactive in addressing issues that impact the community with specific focus on expanding economic development and redevelopment activities,” according to the brochure. Rocklin Chamber President Franklin Burris said the next manager needs to know redevelopment and be interested in revitalizing the downtown. Longtime Rocklin resident Sylvia Miersch said businesses are leaving and the next manager needs a better strategy to keep them. “There are too many buildings being put up that are vacant,” Miersch said. “We need to fill the commercial buildings. They need to bring more development.” Rocklin resident Elaine O’Deegan, who’s fought to preserve Clover Valley, said she wants the next manager to shy away from attracting chain restaurants and fast food. “I would like to see a city manager that wants to make Rocklin something more than a cookie-stamped community,” O’Deegan said. “A vision for our city that makes Rocklin a place people and businesses want to call their home and spend their tax money.” Controversy erupted earlier this year after a government watchdog group accused Urrutia of pension spiking by influencing the council to give him a 42-percent increase in salary in the last few years before his retirement. Meanwhile a cost-saving measure to allow top managers, including Urrutia, to draw their pension while working part-time, so called double dipping, has angered some in the community. Miersch said the next manager should shy away from questionable practices. “They need to be for the betterment of the community,” Miersch said. “It needs to be somebody who is not focusing on how much money they are going to make.” Rocklin resident and business owner Dan Gayaldo recently told council the starting salary should be half of what it is today. The current compensation is nearly $232,000, plus benefits including deferred compensation and a pension. The recruitment brochure said compensation will be negotiated, will be competitive for the region, and based on career history and accomplishments. Rocklin resident Ron Gipson said city officials are overpaid and the compensation should be what Rocklin can afford. “The current city manager is proving that we can make do with a part-timer,” Gipson said. “All the city council needs to do is contact their equals in Auburn and get the instructions on how they managed to get a qualified city manager for much less than Rocklin.” Applications for city manager are due by the end of the month with the top 10 candidates to be interviewed by council starting in late September. It is likely citizens will not know who council is considering until he or she is offered the job. Mayor Scott Yuill explains why the process needs to be away from public view, in closed session. “Executive employment searches such as this for public or private entities must remain confidential for the applicants, many of whom are currently employed elsewhere,” Yuill said. “If names are released, these applicants’ existing positions may be in jeopardy.” Yuill said without confidentiality people would shy away from applying. “It greatly limits the number of candidates applying and curtails its chance of finding the most talented candidate,” Yuill said. The next city manager is expected to be on the job by December, when he or she, is expected to help find a new police chief who is expected to retire in March of next year.