As Santa Monica City Manager Rod Gould retires from his position today, Assistant City Manager Elaine Polachek will have her salary bumped up to $27,452 a month to act as Interim City Manager to keep Gould’s chair warm until a new city manager is appointed. Council has also handed over $50,000 to a private firm to find his replacement. They are producing a brochure.
Polachek officially assumes the role as Interim City Manager Feb. 1 and will remain there until a City Manager is found. As Assistant City Manager, Polachek collects a salary of about $22,000 per a month, according to TransparentCalifornia.com, a database listing all California public employee salaries.
As Interim City Manager, Polachek will be responsible for the day-to-day administration and management of the City and continued implementation of Council policy, she said.
“This includes managing financial and human resources; delivering services; planning strategically for community development; using performance metrics to drive continuous improvement; and committing to high ethical standards. I meet and brief regularly with City Council members as well as with department directors, residents and members of the business community to address their issues and concerns,” Polachek explained.
The Interim City Manager is appointed to hold the tiller steady and keep moving forward on the many initiatives and policies that Council has adopted, according to Polachek.
“There should be a seamless transition between the departing manager, the interim manager and the incoming new manager,” she added. “Once a new City Manager is appointed by Council, I will work closely with him or her to make the transition as smooth and as easy as possible and to provide whatever support I can to ensure his/her success.”
Recruiter Lisa Mills from Alliance Resource Consulting met with council members during a closed session on Tuesday regarding the recruitment of a new City Manager. As part of a $50,000 fee paid to her firm by the City, she will produce a brochure.
Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown said that the $50,000 spend is justified as the City is hiring an executive to manage a highly complex municipal corporation with an annual budget of over half a billion dollars.
“The best candidates for such jobs are not reading the want ads. We’re committed to actively seeking out a great City Manager for our great city,” McKeown said.
Up for grabs in the role is a salary package expected to be close to half a million dollars and a tidy pension.
Gould’s salary was $353,484 and does not include eligibility for bonus and management incentive pay, which is rolled into his base salary, according to the City. “Other pay” and “total benefits” listed on transparentcalifornia.com state his total package as being $483,954.
In previous City Manager salary history, Susan McCarthy’s base was $205,824 plus management incentive pay and eligibility for a performance bonus. Lamont Ewell’s was a base of $278,676 plus management incentive pay plus eligibility for a performance bonus, according to the City.
City Council itself is responsible for hiring the City Manager. Mayor McKeown explained that the job description is vast and the role, pivotal.
“The ideal City Manager must value collaboration with residents, commissions, local businesses and the City Council,” he said. “The City Manager must be a good listener who is respectful of diverse opinions and viewpoints. S/he must be a creative, innovative, resourceful leader with a proven track record for addressing land use, affordable housing, and environmental/social issues.”
The ideal City Manager must also demonstrate: Strong interpersonal skills; Forward thinking, progressive, smart and passionate leadership skills; Political sensitivity without being political; Teamwork, effective delegation and accountability at City Hall; Desire to mentor staff, increase excellence, improve morale and maintain open communication; Ability to develop partnerships with the educational community and regional leaders; Unquestionable ethics and integrity; Strong fiscal management and insight; Ability to develop a City budget that ensures transparency and provides the best use of staff and resources; and a positive attitude, reasonable risk taking and the ability to celebrate the City’s successes, McKeown said.
“Running Santa Monica is far from an entry-level City Manager position,” the Mayor added. “We hope to attract seasoned City Managers, from whom we can pick a person ideally fitted by experience and temperament to the particular challenges of Santa Monica.”
As for the future of Rod Gould, retirement and a bit of relaxation are likely on the cards.
“I am excited,” Gould said, “but still haven’t quite grasped what it will feel like to not to be answerable beginning this weekend as a city manager.”
“My advice to my successor is to pace yourself as Santa Monica can easily become all consuming,” he said.
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