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Dunn named interim city manager
The Colusa City Council voted 3-2 to appoint Acting City Manager Randy Dunn to a one-year term as interim city manager on Tuesday.
He will continue in his role as fire chief, as well.
Dunn's appointment was a break from the ongoing recruitment process for the position, which included a list of criteria and qualifications for potential candidates agreed upon by the previous council.
Candidates had submitted applications, and those applications were being reviewed by the ad hoc hiring committee consisting of Mayor Tom Reiche, Councilwoman Donna Critchfield, Human Resources consultant Patrick Clark and Dunn.
Dunn did not have to submit an application or meet the defined qualifications before being appointed.
Council members said he was going a good job and having him in a dual role as city manager and fire chief saves the city money.
Reiche said the council knows what it is getting with Dunn.
"I don't expect somebody to walk in the door and be that much better. With other candidates, it's a dice roll; we know what we get with Randy," said Reiche.
Councilman Kirk Kelleher said the year appointment allows the council time to discuss a more permanent solution.
"A year would give us the time to talk about what we want as a city manager and talk specifics about what we want in a more permanent city manager, and to really get a good feel for how a city can function in a way that's not turmoil all the time," Kelleher said prior to the vote. Councilwomen Marilyn Acree and Donna Critchfield voted against the appointment. They said their votes were not about Dunn, but rather a desire to continue with the hiring process.
Critchfield suggested that Dunn be placed in the position for a shorter term while the council analyzes its needs and can recruit an applicant to fill the position more permanently.
"I would like to suggest that we follow through with our original plan to look at the current duties of the city manager (and) to establish priorities in seeking a permanent city manager," Critchfield said. "At one point there was sort of an informal discussion amongst the council members that we would do such, and we have not followed through on that," said Critchfield.
Kelleher said he wanted the appointment to be for one year.
"I think it's important to give Randy the feeling that he is going to be doing something specific for the next year and I'd like to stick with one year," said Kelleher.
Acree wanted to compare Dunn's skills to those of the outside applicants if he is to hold the position for any length of time.
"It's important that we take a look at some of the applicants that we've already received," said Acree.
"If Randy is interested in the long-term position of city manager and wearing the hat of the fire chief, then we probably need to have an application and consider him against the pool of candidates that we have," she said.
Reiche pointed out that department heads have stepped into the role without submitting applications in the past.
One of those is Acree's sister, Patti Hickel. "The city has a history of appointing department heads as the interim city manager with an increase in pay and without having to apply to do it. In my case, I'm just filling in until the full-time position is filled, and saving the city money while doing it," said Dunn.
Acree said that she would like to be able to make more educated decisions for the city.
"This is what I believe my role as a City Council member is: To select the best candidate for the city. If I can't compare him to the other pool of candidates, how do I feel confident that I'm making the right decision?" said Acree.
"The last council came to a decision about what they wanted in a candidate and they advertised for the position as such. One requirement is that they wanted someone with a (bachelor's degree) in public administration and I don't know if he has that. My thinking is, I know nothing about his background," said Acree.
She said it is common procedure to have internal candidates submit applications.
"Councilman Kelleher, during the campaigning process on candidates night, said we should run this city as a business. In a business world people who are considered for positions, whether they are internal or external candidates, usually have to fill out some kind of posting notice. You have to understand what their qualifications are. This isn't personal towards Randy. This is just, again, procedural," said Acree.
Critchfield has expressed frustration with what she sees as a lack of transparency and dialogue with the City Council.
"I don't think there is any transparency; it is very lacking. In the community there was so much communication about everything needing to be vetted. Where was the vetting in this issue?" said Critchfield.
Critchfield said Dunn did not complete an application for the position because he had said he didn't want the position.
"I believed there were some very qualified people (who applied)," said Critchfield.
The council never got to the point of analyzing Dunn's qualifications with other candidates.
Critchfield said that when an issue is brought up for discussion during a council meeting, usually a motion is brought before a dialogue can take place.
"We have council members that are not willing to discuss and compromise; I find that repeatedly with this council. My impression is that certain council members are coming to the meetings with pre-made decisions, and I don't like it," said Critchfield.
Both Acree and Critchfield said they are hoping to move on from this issue and get to work for the city.
"I honestly hope that we move forward and that the decisions that are made are good decisions and that we really focus on one of the goals that came out of the workshop, which is transparency," said Acree.