By Leslie Parrilla, San Bernardino Sun
Posted: 07/07/14, 2:28 PM PDT | Updated: 37 secs ago

COLTON >> An investigation related to the city’s top manager comes at one of the worst times for Colton — budget season.

The situation has prompted a 60-day delay until the police chief, who has been tasked as interim city manager in Stephen Compton’s absence, guides departments, many without directors, into a fiscal plan to keep the city running.

Like other California cities, Colton faced a June 30 deadline to pass a budget for fiscal year 2014-15. After Compton was placed on administrative leave June 5, pending a personnel investigation, the city failed to meet that deadline and passed a 60-day extension. Council members and staff say his absence is taking a toll on city business.

“It was the timing of what happened with the city manager,” Councilman David Toro said after last week’s budget workshop about the delay. “They (staff) had everything prepared but when they brought it to us without having the city manager there to ask questions and everything, we extended it for 60 days to make sure we’re all comfortable.”

But Councilman Frank Gonzales said there was much work left to be done.

“I’m trying to find out why are we late on the budget,” Gonzales said. “What’s coming out is that the work hadn’t been done on it. It hadn’t been prepared … Last budget was right on time.”

And the next budget workshop, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today at City Hall, 650 N. La Cadena Drive, will involve crunching numbers to fill some of the city’s vacant department head positions, including finance director, human resources director, information technology director and in the city clerk’s office.

The council placed Compton on paid administrative leave to investigate unexplained personnel actions, according to a statement released June 9. At a council meeting earlier this month, it was revealed that the investigation involved six public works contracts that he approved without informing that department’s top manager. No other details have been released.

Compton, who was hired March 2103 as interim city manager before securing the position in October, has not returned repeated calls for comment.

The situation has residents such as John Anaya, Sr., concerned about the city’s complex budget being assembled without its top staff member, whose job is to guide staff and the council, especially during critical decisions.

“I was kind of very concerned why the city manager was placed on administrative leave during the time of the budget,” Anaya said during public comment at the July 1 City Council meeting. “A lot of people are concerned… The budget is a very important thing to put together… I believe it was a quick move and it was something that you should have waited until he finished the budget and then took that action then. It was not a wise thing to do.”

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