The San Marino City Council unanimously supported hiring a new assistant city manager as opposed to hiring a new public works director for the city, at an adjourned regular meeting the morning of Nov. 14.
In light of assistant city manager Cindy Collins’ upcoming retirement on Dec. 31, City Manager Matt Ballantyne proposed instead hiring a new public works director, a position the city eliminated about six years ago, Ballantyne told Patch.
“I’m getting pretty thin staff-wise so when an individual leaves it’s hard to fill that void and part of the public works director position was to provide some redundancy in that,” said Ballantyne. “But we’ve been managing things well with current staff and I certainly understand the council’s perspective on this and I think they want to take a look at pension reform before we start creating new positions.”
The primary function of San Marino’s assistant city manager is personnel and overseeing public works, capital improvement projects and troubleshooting.
Collins’ replacement will be appointed by Ballantyne and likely promoted from within. A councilman told Patch who the replacement will likely be, but it is not yet official.
Ballantyne said the city eliminated the public works director position about six years ago since the was being built and the city was concerned with budget issues—and still is today.
The assistant city manager position pays somewhat less than a public works director position and Ballantyne said a new assistant city manager will start at the bottom of the salary range.
“This is a little less expensive and that’s good but that’s not the reason we made that decision—we wanted to do the right thing,” said . “If we did not have a good candidate within then the other option would be to hire a public works director and we don’t have anyone in-house who could fill that position so it would be a three to six month search. … It depends upon if you already have qualified people on board. If you do, I think it’s better to always promote from within—you know what you’re getting, you know the strengths of the person you are promoting and you have had years of training the individual.”
During her time as assistant city manager, Collins has worked on several projects such as the Lacy Park war memorial and Thurnher house upgrades and helped operate the library when the city librarian passed away a few years ago.
“I think there’s a lot of things that need to change through time and mostly it’s the economics,” said Ballantyne about what could possibly contribute to hiring a public works director in the future.