Colton, Ca.,- I had an opportunity to meet with Colton First, a grassroots organization of several residents to discuss the council agenda and meet with Town officials about their concerns. Last evening, the guest speaker was Rod Foster, the City Manager hired to turn Colton around after their general fund was taken down to $55,276.00.
Foster is credited with correcting Colton’s “fiscal trajectory that was on a course to bankruptcy” while facing the loss of a revenue stream of $5 million dollars that was going to sunset.
Rod spoke about his relationship with the citizens of Colton and that he worked very hard to earn their respect by first respecting them. He stated it only mattered about Colton people and this was a place for people, not the Council and not the City. He used the phrase “Happy-Sad” to describe his feelings about moving away to Laguna Niguel. A recruiter spotted Rod’s achievements and accomplishments of bringing Colton back from the brink of bankruptcy while gaining the trust of the citizens. Laguna Niguel’s City Manager, Tim Casey, was retiring after 22 years of being the first and only City Manager. He assisted the City Council with the recruitment and selection of the new city manager.
After 3 years of leadership, Rod is leaving Colton in a better place with over $2.275 million dollars in reserves and on-track to a brighter future. As reported on Cactus Thorns, Foster accepted a position as Manager for the City of Laguna Niguel and will be moving there when his son completes this school year. Story link
Contrast this management style with Yucca Valley Town Manager, Mark Nuaimi, who secured a $14,000.00 raise adding to his total pay package of $293,000.00 from inexperienced Council Members. This same Council recently proposed cutting the swimming program, the popular summer concerts and perhaps all the recreation department activities due to Nuaimi’s uncontrolled spending this past year and bad decisions.
Nuaimi’s attitude of making sure he “got his first,” is not a sign of true leadership compared to Colton’s City Manager, Rod Foster, as reported in The Sun:
COLTON - “Citing the city’s tough financial position and the need for city employees from the top down to make sacrifices, the City Council on Tuesday approved a reduction of more than 10 percent to City Manager Rod Foster’s salary.
Foster volunteered for the cut, which he had negotiated in several closed-session meetings with the city attorney and council. The changes went into effect immediately.
“As we’re facing a myriad of issues in Colton, I felt it was appropriate to take the initiative and give a sizeable concession to demonstrate to the community our commitment to provide a top level of service in the most cost- effective manner,” Foster said.
Foster’s base salary dropped 6 percent to $206,800. He also waived cost-of-living adjustments and several stipends and began paying more of his contribution the Public Employees Retirement System.
Those and other changes are estimated to decrease his salary by about 11 % immediately and as much as 19.73 % by July 1, 2012, when other benefits would have gone into effect.
Foster’s contract was also extended to December 2014, a one-year increase – “like the other bargaining units are beginning to consider,” the staff report notes.
Those other units – namely the police and fire unions – should take note, said several members of the public and the council.
“Their lesson needs to come from the leadership of Rod, and follow his lead,” Councilman David Toro said. “He’s put all the issues and the critics to rest, and now it’s time to act.”
Foster’s salary had been a target for opponents of proposed cuts to the police and fire departments.
To cope with the loss of a utility tax that expires in June – taking with it about $5 million per year, or about 16 percent of the city’s operating income – the working budget would mean laying off 16 police officers, nine firefighters and eight employees from other departments. That number could be lower if employees accepted other concessions. “ The Sun 1/18/2011