The La Puente City Council last voted to hire a contracted agency to oversee the city’s planning and public works services while they continue to search for permanent administrators to man City Hall almost a year after 13 department heads were laid off.
The council agreed to hire Civic Solutions, Inc., for $135,000 for a 12-month period while council members continue recruiting to fill the position of the Director of Development Services, a consolidated position that was created after city officials reorganized last March.
Mayor John Solis and Councilman David Argudo are on an ad hoc committee that is responsible for interviewing and hiring applicants.
Of the six permanent positions created under the reorganization, the council has hired three — the city manager, director of administrative services and the recreation services manager.
After interviewing 17 applicants for the development services position — which will oversee planning, public works, development services, building and safety and engineering — city officials have yet to find a permanent replacement.
Councilman Dan Holloway said he was concerned that the positions that were supposed to be filled last July are not being filled and that City Hall is not moving forward.
“Our intent was and hopefully still is to hire a permanent replacement and the process should go forward,” Holloway said. “My questions is how are we going to do that if we’ve had 17 applicants and we found none of them acceptable? What exactly are we going to do?”
City Manager Bret Plumlee said the council will continue to search the market, go back out and advertise the position and begin recruiting again. The contract is good for up to a year, and there is a provision allowing the council to terminate services when needed.
Solis said the contracted worker was a good alternative.
“A lot of cities are going this way to go with a contracted workers,” he said. “We’re saving with this. Nobody is going to a full-time person with benefits. Benefits and PERS are killing cities way too much.”
Civic Solutions has been serving on an interim basis since September and will continue to do so until the city hires a permanent manager.
Because a full-time employee would cost $178,200 in salary and benefits for, the move will save the city about $43,200, officials said.
The cost of providing the services will be funded from the vacant Development Services Director position.
“We’re still looking for permanent solutions,” Argudo said. “At this point in time we have a cost-savings measure. They’re doing a phenomenal time. We’re moving forward and we’re keeping our options open.”