Needles Mulls Hiring New City Manager

(June 14) NEEDLES —David Brownlee may be in the final phase of his tenure as city manager with the smallest city in San Bernardino County.
The city council on May 28 approved advertising for the city manager position and designated council members Linda Kidd, Jim Lopez and Tom Darcy to serve on a subcommittee to review responses from candidates.
Brownlee, who was elevated into a caretaker city manager post in 2010 when the previous city manager, Bill Way,  was released, was the city’s assistant city manager and utilities service manager at the time. At present, the council is seeking a city manager who is connected politically, can bring economic development to Needles and can write grants.
The council set a $1,000 limit on its advertising costs for the position, suggesting the recruitment would be mainly staged through a public notice in the Califorria League of Cities monthly publication.
Brownlee’s current contract runs from June 1 of this year through May 31, 2014. The terms of that contract give him retreat rights to return to being a city employee with the title of assistant city manager/utilities general manager.
There was no outward show of contention between Brownlee and the council, although the council did rebuff Brownlee in his recent effort to get clearance to hire an associate planner. The city council’s move comes as the economy is continuing to stagnate and businesses are vacating Needles and no new businesses are coming in to the town located on the western bank of the Colorado River. The city itself is making payroll and bond payments. The city is in a relatively fortunate position in that it owns the electric, water and wastewater utilities which give it some semblance of financial stability. Needles has challenges, including significant going-concern issues, according to the San Bernardino County Local Agency Formation Commission, most of which are beyond the city’s control.
Needles, with a population of 4,844, is the county’s smallest city population-wise. The budgeted range for the city manager in Needles is $129,000 to $132,000 per year. Brownlee is not paid according to that schedule, however, and receives $50.47 per hour based on  furlough-truncated annual hours of 1,976. All employees in Needles are required to take furloughs. Brownlee’s annual salary is therefore $99,728.72. If the furloughs were to be discontinued and he were to work a full 2080-hour work year, he would be earning $104,977.60 per annum.

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