Due to an adverse ruling by a state agency, Atherton's interim city manager John Danielson has submitted his resignation, effective Friday, Jan. 27, the town of Atherton announced Jan. 25.
But the City Council will vote at a special meeting on Friday (Jan. 27) on a proposal to keep him on as a consultant for up to 90 more days, paying him $14,000 a month. He's been paid $15,000 a month as city manager.
At the same meeting, the council will also vote on appointing Theresa DellaSanta, the town's deputy city clerk, interim city manager.
Mr. Danielson's resignation is due to the refusal of the California Public Employees Retirement System to exempt him from a crucial rule. That rule prohibits Mr. Danielson, the retired city manager of Elk Grove, from working for a single employer for more than one year if he is to receive his pension.
The union that had represented 13 town employees who were laid off last year due to the town's outsourcing, under Mr. Danielson's leadership, of two departments, had appealed to CalPERS to deny the town's request for an exemption.
In a statement emailed to the Almanac, union representative Peter Finn said: "Teamsters Local 856 advocated strongly against the year extension and we applaud CalPERS' decision to deny the Town's appeal. Atherton Interim City Manager John Danielson has been taking advantage of taxpayer dollars through pension double-dipping while simultaneously gutting the Town of its highly skilled staff through outsourcing so extreme it is now the subject of a pending lawsuit.
"Teamsters Local 856 opposed the year extension because we believe in a fair and honest system that does not include upper echelon managers taking advantage of taxpayer money while budgets are balanced on the back of rank of file members."
Whether the proposed consulting contract will pass muster with CalPERS remains to be seen. Mayor Bill Widmer said in a telephone interview that City Attorney Bill Conners "feels very comfortable with the arrangement."
Mr. Conners had explained to him that as long as Mr. Danielson wasn't involved in the day-to-day operations of the town, and restricted his duties to that of executive recruiter and executive coach to Ms. DellaSanta, he would be able to continue receiving his pension, the mayor said.
Another fly in the ointment may be Mr. Danielson's effective date of resignation: Jan. 27. In a Jan. 19 letter to the town, CalPERS wrote that Mr. Danielson "must cease employment for the Town of Atherton immediately" if his retired status was to remain in effect.
Amy Norris of CalPERS said the agency must have his letter of resignation by Jan. 30, showing he resigned at the time the letter was sent. She was unable to say whether the letter had been emailed or sent by post.
Ms. DellaSanta and Mr. Danielson were in the process of establishing a new rate of pay this morning, but Mayor Widmer said the adjustment to her salary was likely to be around 15 percent.
Ms. DellaSanta now makes about $6,410 monthly. If her salary is boosted by 15 percent, she would make about $7,371 per month.
Before the council on Jan. 27 is a recommendation from Mr. Conners that the town pay Mr. Danielson $14,000 a month on a contract basis to provide recruitment services for a new city manager and advice to the interim city manager for a period of 90 days.
"Mr. Danielson will have no direct staff involvement nor will he be directing any Town activities, effective immediately," the town said in a press release dated Jan. 25.
The proposed consulting agreement with Mr. Danielson says he will "provide professional consultant services limited generally to conducting a search for a new City Manager."
The meeting begins at 11 a.m. in the Council Chambers, 94 Ashfield Road in the Town Center.