The council voted unanimously to hire Troy Butzlaff as the new City Manager. Butzlaff was the city administrator for Placentia. The council has been without a permanent top leader since former city manager James Makshanoff left in September for the city manager post in San Clemente. Interim City Manager Don Penman was hired in October and will stay on with the city through Butzlaff’s planned start date of Feb. 17. The contract is for three years, with two one-year extensions. Butzlaff will receive a $198,500 annual salary, a vehicle allowance of $500 per month and technology allowance of $250 per month, higher than Makshanoff’s $192,000 salary with a $250 monthly auto allowance, a $125 technology allowance, as well as $250 per month in deferred compensation. Butzlaff also will be eligible for one-time reimbursements of up to $750 for co-payments related to an initial physical exam and up to $1,000 for moving-related expenses. Butzlaff will not be able to cash out any accrued sick time and only cash out a certain amount of administrative leave; will receive $240 less than any other city employee for a flexible benefit program; and will be paying 7 percent for his participation in the CalPERS retirement program, while other city employees only pay 5 percent, Penman said at the meeting, adding that Butzlaff agreed to all of those contract provisions.
An accounting firm has issued an opinion on the city of Baldwin Park’s finances, and offered 15 observations and recommendations for changes in the city’s policies and procedures during an annual audit. Those changes range from reviewing credit card reimbursement procedures to disbanding a nonprofit corporation run by city employees. The firm looked at standard areas for audits such as cash receipts and long-term debt. The firm expanded its scope to include self-insurance, wire transfers, financial reports, credit cards, parks and recreation, a nonprofit and information technology. The firm’s 15 recommendations came as a result of observations made during the auditing process. The observations were:
- The Parks and Recreation Department’s cash receipts procedures lacked review and approval;
- Most Finance Department policies have not been updated since 1987;
- City-issued credit card and travel expenditure policies were unclear and a random review of credit card transactions lacked supporting receipts;
- A review of contracts showed no formal policy to verify that there is no conflict of interest between council or staff and contractors hired by the city;
- The city’s Section 8 Housing account had more than $21,000 in the bank from stale dated checks that had not been cashed by recipients.
- Documents provided by the city did not have enough information for the firm’s audit procedures;
- The city had not reviewed its capital assets in several years;
- Police department towing fees did not have independent tracking or verification;
- An audit of the MTA funds had compliance issues;
- Budget issues related to reporting expenditures were a result of budget code issues;
- Council minutes were not available for three years;
- City officials were not submitting campaign disclosure forms (Form 460) on time;
- Many job descriptions for city employees were unofficial or nonexistent;
- The city’s refundable deposits were not accurate; and
- The Baldwin Park Community Center Corporation has not been operating as required by its bylaws.
Several of the items already were being addressed according to the firm.
Covina approved a contract with its new city manager. The employment agreement with Andrea Miller, former San Bernardino interim city manager and current San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments director, lists an “indefinite term” for her employment, meaning it will only end if the city lets her go or she resigns. That type of contract actually gives the council more power should they decide replace Miller. Miller had received a similar contract when she worked as city manager in La Mirada. er contract stipulates that the council must pay Miller six months severance if they let her go, much less than the nine to 18-month severance packages often given to city managers in other communities. Miller only needs to give 30 days notice to sever her ties with the city. Miller will receive a base salary of $205,500, with a possibility of gaining up to $15,000 extra each year through performance evaluations. Former City Manager Darryl Parish, who retired in December, made $243,868 in 2013. The city set his base salary at $213,465, according to an amended employment agreement from 2013. The council extended his contract five times after its approval in 2009.
More than a week after officials announced that Eric McBride would be the city’s next police chief, McBride abruptly withdrew his candidacy amid sharp criticism of his stance on undocumented immigrants. McBride, who is currently San Bernardino Police Department Assistant Police Chief, was to be sworn in as El Monte police chief Feb. 25. McBride’s decision came after immigrants rights activists over the weekend began to rally opposition against him because of anti-illegal immigration policies he pushed while he served on the Hemet City Council from 2006-2010. In 2010, McBride, then Hemet mayor, introduced a resolution in support of Arizona’s controversial anti-illegal immigration law. That law, SB 1070, requires police officers to check the immigration status of everyone they stop if they suspect the person might be an undocumented immigrant. Four years earlier, in 2006, McBride also sounded off on the issue of day laborers working in the city. He proposed requiring people seeking day labor to hold business licenses as a way to both regulate the practice and provide a means of locating and deporting undocumented residents. El Monte is 69 percent Latino and 25 percent Asian, according to the latest U.S Census data, and has long been home to many immigrants new to the United States. Political votes and views are not typically part of the vetting process, according to a statement from City Manager Raul Godinez II, who is responsible for selecting the police chief. Mayor Andre Quintero concurred with the statement. El Monte announced McBride as the winning candidate in early February to much fanfare. Officials celebrated the decision as the first time someone from outside the department would take over the post. Typically, chiefs come from within the department’s ranks. McBride was chosen from a pool of 25 applicants after a national search by Alliance Resource Consulting, a consultant hired by the city. El Monte will continue the process to find a new Chief.
City officials said they would re-examine a decade-old zoning plan which permitted a five-story structure to be built on Route 66. Some residents say Avalon Bay, a 280-unit housing and retail development at Glendora Avenue and Route 66, is out of character for the area, specifically objecting to a five-story parking structure in the middle of the complex and the buildings’ proximity to the street. However, the developer was allowed to build under the specific Route 66 plan, city officials said. Councilmembers claim they were told by the could not to reject the plan without inviting lawsuits. The Route 66 plan sets zoning regulations for Route 66 between Amelia and Barranca avenues, dividing the historic road into sections for commercial, retail and housing. The plan was approved in late 2003 after several years of community input and professional study. The city wants to revitalize Route 66 by creating a higher-density housing and retail zone near the future Gold Line stop, according to Planning Director Jeff Kugel. Height and density incentives in the Route 66 Plan are used to encourage developers to build like Avalon Bay. The developer bought 13 parcels along Glendora Avenue and Route 66 to build retail shops, apartments, playgrounds and a parking structure. The parking structure is 62 feet at its highest point. The proposal was submitted to the planning department, then given to the Planning Commission for initial review at its Dec. 4, 2012 meeting. Two public hearings were held with the commission before the council approved the 256-unit project at its Feb. 26, 2013 meeting and a 24-unit extension May 13, 2014. Public hearing announcements are distributed to property owners within 500 feet of the project and announced on the city’s website. Residents can also sign up for email alerts when a public hearing is set. The next step is to have the planning commission look at the Route 66 Specific Plan beginning in April.
The City Council voted to uphold its earlier decision denying a zone change for a shopping center.
The three-hour discussion in late January resulted in the council voting 3-1 against the rezoning with one abstention. The 15-acre shopping center is bordered by the 60 Freeway on the north, South Grove Avenue on the east, East Walnut Street on the south and homes on the west. The re-zoning would have converted the shopping center from a neighborhood commercial zone to a general commercial zone, or from a C1 designation to a C3 designation. The change would have allowed discount stores to lease the space. Councilman Paul Vincent Avila and Mayor Paul Leon voted against upholding the decision, Councilmembers Debra Dorst-Porada and Jim Bowman voted in favor and Councilman Alan Wapner was not present. Because the vote was a tie, the decision was upheld because it was not overturned.
A resolution calling for renaming downtown’s Thomas Plaza at Second and Thomas streets in honor of late Pomona Police Officer Shaun Diamond is going before the City Council. Diamond, 45, died Oct. 29 at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena. after he sustained gunshot wounds while assisting a team serving a search warrant in San Gabriel. His death resulted in a outpouring of support. For close to four years Diamond’s beat was downtown and during that time residents and business people of the area got to know him and worked closely with him. A vigil, organized by the Pomona Police Officers’ Association, was held in Thomas Plaza following and it was there that Larry Egan, executive director of the Downtown Pomona Owners Association, proposed changing the square’s name in honor of Diamond. Representatives of the Owners Association have expressed an interest in spearheading a fundraising effort to generate revenue to pay for a plaque or monument that would be placed at the plaza.
A new carport in the employee parking lot at City Hall will soon be generating power for the city.
The City Council approved a $313,000 contract for the installation of a carport with solar panels on the roof. The carport, which will have 44 spaces and would be built in two phases. It is expected it will take the city about 11 years to pay off the project, and once it does, the carport will save Rancho Cucamonga $4,177 a month or a little more than $45,000 annually. Solar panels typically have a lifespan of 25 years. The height of the carport will range from 8 1/2 feet to 12 feet and will tilt 5 degrees to the south, for optimal solar exposure. The galvanized steel structure will be able to sustain wind loads of up to 100 mph. The roof deck structure will be built this year but the solar panels will be installed in two phases. The first phase will have 132 solar panels that will provide 55,000 kilowatt hours in a year. Once the carport is completed it will have 400 solar panels, generating 165,000 kilowatt hours and enough to power for 25 households annually.
Councilman Steve Herfert announced on Monday February 23rd that he will leave the council after 25 years at the dais. Herfert, first elected in 1990, served six times as the city’s mayor. He made the announcement in a two page letter to the city that looked back on his time in office and thanked those who helped him along the way. Herfert retired from Southern California Edison in 2013.