Atwater approved a contract Monday with another interim city manager, a replacement for the previous interim who decided to relinquish his position after a series of “conflicts” and “distractions” in the city manager search.
The City Council voted 3-1 to approve an interim contract with John Bramble, the former city manager of Merced. Councilman Brian Raymond voted “no” and Councilman James Vineyard was absent.
The former top administrator, Frank Pietro, retired in December. Since then, the search has seen controversy.
The contract calls for Bramble to work 32 hours a week starting July 1 and continue through no later than Nov. 30, and he cannot exceed 960 hours total in that time. Atwater has furloughs on Fridays.
He’ll be paid $79 an hour, not to exceed $13,721 in a month, which amounts to the fifth step on the salary schedule for a city manager. The contract does not provide health or any other benefits.
Bramble, 71, worked as a public employee for about 45 years, including seven in Merced, before he retired in 2015.
$79The hourly pay for interim City Manager John Bramble
He came to Merced in October 2008 at a time when the city was projecting dwindling revenues, including a 10 percent decline in sales tax revenue. City leaders made ends meet by relying on $12 million in rainy-day money with $5 million that came from the general fund reserves.
Once again, Bramble joins a city in difficult financial times, though his role is temporary. Atwater has struggled, verging on bankruptcy in 2012, and is dealing with a $2.8 million general fund debt, among other unfunded obligations, according to interim City Manager Scott McBride.
John Bramble, 71, worked as a public employee for about 45 years, including seven in Merced, before he retired in 2015.
McBride, who previously applied for the full-time position, said in May he would no longer wants the job. In a statement to the Sun-Star, he said he decided to step away after a series of “conflicts” and “distractions” kept the council from handling “serious issues.”
Residents at a special council meeting in April complained about the perception of wrongdoing after the other candidate, former Ceres police Chief Art de Werk, was seen at a restaurant with three council members. Councilmembers denied discussing city business at the restaurant or violating any open-meetings laws.
Questions also have been raised about de Werk’s relationship with Councilwoman Cindy Vierra, whose husband used to work for de Werk at the Ceres Police Department. Vierra has denied having a personal friendship with de Werk and brushed off criticisms, saying she doesn’t have any conflict of interest.