San Juan Bautista still searching for new city manager

Former top administrator resigned abruptly in August

San Juan Bautista City Hall

Three people, their identities under wraps by city officials, were interviewed for the City of San Juan Bautista’s top administrative job last week during a closed session city council meeting.

The city has been searching for a permanent city manager since the former administrator abruptly resigned in August.

The San Juan Bautista City Council met on Friday, December 1 to hold a second round of interviews for the position, which is responsible for a wide swathe of duties, from overseeing development agreements to negotiating new labor contracts.

An initial round of interviews with two candidates took place on October 6.

The council is looking for a candidate with experience in a management position and familiarity with finance, public works and city planning issues.

Interim City Manager Ed Tewes, who occupied the same temporary role at the City of Gilroy two years ago before leading their recruitment effort for a new city administrator, is aiding San Juan Bautista council members in their search for a permanent city leader. Tewes explained the process.

“Initial recruitment was advertised in Western City Magazine,” Tewes said Monday. “Second round, additional ads [were] placed on websites dedicated to city management professionals, as well as personal outreach by me.”

Tewes said the city didn’t use a third-party recruiter to find applicants and that positions were advertised as open until filled with an initial review of applications by October 30.

Four candidates were invited to interview last Friday, however, the council only interviewed three potential picks. The process has not concluded, so candidate names are kept confidential.

A report on the closed session interviews and progress in the search for a permanent San Juan Bautista city manager could come as early as the next city council meeting on December 19.

“Under state law, the appointment of a city manager must be at a regular meeting,” Tewes said.

Tewes was brought on as interim city manager in September after former city manager Roger Grimsley’s abruptly resigned after coming under fire for approving significant alterations to a section of the Rancho Vista housing development currently under construction without requiring the developer to seek approval from elected city officials.

In August during a closed session city council meeting Grimsley resigned after serving six years as city manager. His resignation also left the post of city engineer vacant. The city has since hired two consulting firms, 4Leaf Inc. and Harris & Associates to cover the role of city engineer.

Councilman Daniel De Vries said he is impressed with the caliber of applicants.

“Thanks in large part to the great work of interim City Manager Ed Tewes, we were presented with an unprecedented group of exceptional candidates. The applicants were so strong, it made the decision process very difficult—which was a nice problem to have, believe me. But at the end of our deliberations, our decision was unanimous and I could not be more pleased with the selection. I truly believe that this next city manager is going to usher in a completely new paradigm of city administration to San Juan, and ‘raise our game’ to the next level. I am very excited about the future for our town and its administration.”

According to Tewes, the city council will negotiate a new city manager’s salary, but the budget provides for around $110,000. With benefits, total cost to the city would be around $137,500. The experienced administrator urged caution when looking to outside sources to confirm public employees’ salaries.

“Be cautious,” Tewes said. “Transparent California and other for profit websites often confuse ‘city cost’ with ‘value of benefits’ to the employee in trying to develop a ‘total compensation’ figure. When people ask what you make do you add the employer’s contribution for Social Security? Transparent Cal et al, should be looking for the equivalent of ‘W-2’ when reporting compensation, but that generally isn’t sensational enough.”

Former city manager Roger Grimsley’s salary was around $69,000 and his negotiated benefits package placed Grimsley’s total compensation at $80,750.

Tewes also noted that the City of San Juan Bautista is not a CalPERS retirement agency like San Benito County.

“We do not have a defined benefit retirement system so we do not have a retirement contribution except what is negotiated for a contribution to a deferred compensation program—401K for private employers, 457 for public employers.”

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