City council approves resolution for finance position vacancy

With the upcoming retirement of its finance manager, the city of Susanville is branching out to find a replacement after not receiving any applications.

“After two rounds of recruitments in multiple periodicals, newspapers and online, we did not receive any applications that met the minimum qualifications for the position,” read the item summary from City Administrator/Chief of Police Kevin Jones.

To help fill the impending vacancy since the current finance manager Deborah Savage is set to retire Dec. 31, the Susanville City Council heard a presentation Wednesday, Dec. 2 from John Herrera, president and CEO of MuniTemps, and approved a resolution entering into an agreement with MuniTemp and authorizing the city administrator to execute all agreements and documents.

“Based on recommendations from three other city governments, I began researching and communicating with a company called MuniTemps. This is a firm of Certified Public Accountants who specialize in municipal government. The firm provides short, interim and long-term solutions for finance position vacancies. They also assist in finding permanent employees and other solutions for organizations. I have spoken to other entities who have used or are using their services and they have very favorable recommendations,” wrote Jones.

The city council heard a presentation from Herrera during its recent meeting.

“I’m very honored you called my firm, MuniTemps. We’ve been serving municipalities in California for the last 14 years, but I personally have been working with city governments for 30 years. My goal has always been to work with the city manager and the council, stakeholders, to maximize the wealth of the community, and expand the fiscal capacity of the community and the organization,” said Herrera.

He said he was excited to work with Susanville because he felt it was an opportunity to make some recommendations, and to help the community understand the fiscal standing.

According to the summary report, “The President and CEO of MuniTemps, John Herrera, has been provided a copy of the city’s budget to evaluate and provide a proposal. Mr. Herrera has provided a proposal that outlines the billing rate of $105 per hour for work done remotely and $175 per hour when on site. Mr. Herrera estimates the work can be done approximately 75 percent remotely and 25 percent on site.”

Herrera added he already looked through the chart of accounts and financial statements and has already seen opportunities for recalculating.

“We are here to serve you one week, one month or as long as you need our services,” said Herrera.

Jones asked what the first two weeks would look like for him and moving forward.

Herrera said he could come as soon as Monday and work with the current finance manager to see where the city stands now and what’s in place. And then, later on, the city could let him know if they needed someone in person.

Councilmember Quincy McCourt asked Herrera how he would increase the level of transparency.

“I very much am committed to transparency and accountability. It’s not just a cliché to me, as I’m sure it’s not to you, as well. But that is to ensure the public has access to all the information, but not just as a data dump of financial reports, but rather as meaningful, useful information that we can synthesize,” Herrera answered.

Jones added right now the finance manager is, full package, about $160,000. And, although he initially requested a not-to-exceed amount of $8,000 a month for the agreement, he asked for an increase  not-to-exceed $10,000 a month for the first month to allow for the in person work.

“It’s always hard to lose an employee who’s been around as long as Debbie, and she has been with the city for years, she’s a part of the city. She stepped up into that position and has held it, and stuck with it. I really wish her well in her retirement,” said Mayor Mendy Schuster.

She added the agreement with MuniTemps seemed like positive since he has worked with problems the city is currently trying to solve.

“It sounds like he’s going to have effective solutions for us,” Schuster said.

McCourt agreed to give the agreement a go, but suggested the first two months be set up to $12,000.

The board unanimously approved the resolution entering into agreement with MuniTemps and authorizing the city administrator to execute all agreements and documents.