Michael J. Sorba, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/16/2010 05:43:23 PM PST

COLTON – A major overhaul of city operations won unanimous support Saturday when the City Council voted to approve a reorganization proposal presented to them Thursday night by new City Manager Rod Foster.

Under the plan, six employees -including three department heads – will be laid off, the city’s 11 departments will be consolidated into seven and several employee classifications will be added, eliminated, or revised.

The council voted 6-0, with Councilwoman Deirdre Bennett absent, to make the recommended changes. Besides city staff about 20 residents attended the meeting.

“I don’t think we were left with much choice with the (structural deficit) that we have,” said Mayor Kelly Chastian.

The city faces a $1.2 million structural deficit for fiscal year 2010-11. The reorganization will produce $339,253 in salary savings. Direct savings to the General Fund is $245,212, a city report says.

Foster said the first step in reorganizing will be to start the meet and confer process with employees, which is required to officially end employment, he said. He couldn’t estimate of how long the process may take, but said he doesn’t expect it to be too long.

Directors of the Colton Electric Utility, Water and Wastewater Department and Redevelopment Agency are expected to have their contracts severed.

Each director is entitled to a severance package under the terms of their respective contracts, Foster said. He plans to meet with those directors this week to address options to end contracts with or without paying a full severance.

A risk manager, a video production specialist and a risk management specialist are the other three employees scheduled to lose their jobs. The loss of the video specialist will not affect broadcasts of city meetings over the Internet or on Channel 3, Foster said.

The consolidation plans will create three new departments consisting of groups from former departments. A Management Services Department will be formed to oversee the human resources, finance and customer service functions of the city, the report says.

Finance Director Bonnie Johnson will transition to Director of Management Services. As finance director, Johnson received an annual salary of $143,141 with a $44,101 benefits package.

Johnson will be paid $169,335 annually with $39,736 in benefits to compensate for the added responsibilities that will come with her new job, the report says.

A deputy finance director position will be created and that job will pay $118,600 annually with $31,016 in benefits. A “financial expert” will be recruited for that job and will lead budget preparations.

Bill Smith, who has functioned as interim deputy city manager since October, will return for his former job as community services director. Police Chief Bob Miller appointed Smith to the interim post during his recent stint as interim city manager.

The interim deputy city manager position was created to fill the absence of a human resources director. During the interim post, Smith headed human resources and community services, making a $166,550 annual salary with $39,189 in benefits.

As community services director, Smith will make $138,965 annually with $34,740 in benefits, the report says. A new human resources manager will be recruited, and that person will make $110,250 annually with $30,016 in benefits.

A Development Services Department will combine community and economic development, redevelopment and housing under one umbrella, the report says. A development services director will be recruited, who will make $158,204 annually with $37,905 in benefits.

Public works and the electric and water utilities will be merged into the Department of Public Works and Utility Services. Public Works Director Maritza Tapia will transition into a role as interim director of the new department, Foster said. A registered civil engineer will be recruited to become the permanent director of the department and will be paid $186,954 annually with $42,634 in benefits. Tapia will then become an assistant director, Foster said.

Also Saturday, the council awarded contracts totaling $187,570 to San Francisco-based Harvey M. Rose Associates for operational performance audits of the Fire Department and electric utility. The council hopes information provided by the audits will identify new revenue sources and strategies to run both departments more efficiently. The audit will not result in increased electric rates, Foster said.

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