News - January 28, 2009

Town shuffles key staff jobs

by Andrea Gemmet

Atherton is shuffling key posts in the town's administration, eliminating a couple of mid-management positions in favor of cheaper help. However, the changes won't result in a net savings to the town over the long run, according staff projections.

The Atherton City Council approved the reorganization at its Jan. 21 meeting, on a 4-0 vote.

One of the key changes is that Atherton's assistant city manager, Eileen Wilkerson, will also take on the responsibilities of the half-time city clerk, thus saving the town about $75,000 in the clerk's annual salary.

A new position, deputy city clerk, will be added at an annual cost of up to $109,735 in salary and benefits.

In the finance department, the assistant finance director position will be dropped, and replaced by a less-expensive full-time accountant. The half-time finance assistant position will see a small increase in hours, and an office assistant position will drop from full-time to six hours a day.

The net annual additional cost of the reorganization, in salary, benefits and payroll costs, could be up to $23,938, if the new hires qualify for the top step of the pay ranges, according to a staff report by Ms. Wilkerson. This year, however, the town will see a net savings of about $14,000, since it will take a couple of months to fill the open positions, the staff report says.

The reorganization was triggered by a couple of openings in the town staff, Ms. Wilkerson said.

Acting City Clerk Kathi Hamilton has announced plans to retire, and the office assistant position is open. Assistant Finance Director Paula Pierce, a town employee for 19 years, was fired in November.

Ms. Pierce said she was called in to City Manager Jerry Gruber's office on Nov. 7, informed that she was a management employee not covered by any contract, and then terminated. "I was given no reason for my expulsion," she told The Almanac.


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