Almanac

News - September 29, 2010

Atherton sets special meeting on staffing

by Renee Batti

Some key staff positions, among them the city manager's job, will be the subject of a special meeting of the Atherton City Council at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 30.

The meeting had been scheduled before the Sept. 23 announcement that City Manager Jerry Gruber was leaving his post on Oct. 22, but a discussion on how to find his replacement was quickly added to the agenda.

Mayor Kathy McKeithen said the council will discuss options for a replacement process that could include a short-term manager chosen for his or her ability to evaluate the current Town Hall staffing and policies and make recommendations to the council on possible improvements.

The council will also discuss going out to bid for contract services to fill the positions of town attorney, building official, and code-enforcement officer, according to Mayor McKeithen.

The attorney and code-enforcement positions are already contracted out, while the town has traditionally filled the building official position in-house. But as town officials have looked for ways to cut employee costs, they have also considered outsourcing services, whenever possible, to save on the cost of benefits and other employee-related costs.

Current City Attorney Wynne Furth has indicated her firm will bid to retain the contract, and the town is also likely to continue filling the code-enforcement post through outsourcing.

Several council members, however, have questioned the wisdom of outsourcing the building department's top position, arguing that the department pays for itself through building permit fees, and the revenue can be spent only in that department. Also, they say, the position is a critical one, and it may be smarter and more efficient to have the services performed in-house.

Also on the agenda is consideration of a request for design proposals for a possible new Town Center.

The meeting will be held in the Atherton Council Chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.

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