Colton Sends Signals That Suspended City Manager Won’t Be Coming Back

(July 24)  COLTON–There were unmistakeable signals this week that suspended Colton City Manager Stephen Compton will not be retruning to the city any time soon, if at all.
Compton was placed on paid administrative leave June 5. City officials have been tight-lipped about the substance of that investigation,though the Sentinel has learned the action taken against Compton came about as a result of his having exceeded his authority by micromanaging the operations in the public works department.
To guide the city during Compton’s absence, the city council designated police chief Steve Ward to serve as acting city manager. More than a month-and-a-half later, Ward  grew wary that police department oversight was being neglected and he begged off to return to his actual duties.
While Ward’s departure from City Hall was interpreted by some as sign of Compton’s imminent return, that soon was shown not to be the case.
Rather, the Sentinel has learned, the city council has made arrangments with the municipalities department heads to rotate into position of city manager through to perhaps the middle of October. These managerial assignments will run for two weeks each. First into the rotation is fire chief Tim McHargue, who has supplanted Ward. In August, public works director Amer Jakher will relieve McHague. At mid-month August , electric utility director David Kolk will oversee city operations. At the end of August, development services director Mark Tomich will become temporary top administrator. On September 12 or thereabouts, Tomich will be succeeded by community services director Bill Smith. At that point Ward will be asked again to step up.
At that point, it is anticipated that the city council will have made a decision on whether Compton is going to return or whether the city will seek his permanent replacement.
Compton, a former assistant city manager in Ridgecrest and the one-time finance director for Omnitrans, had 32 years in various municipal government assignments before he was lured in March 3013 from his then-position as the accounting manager for the city of Fountain Valley to serve as Colton city manager.
Though as city manager he was permitted to dictate operational policy as arrived at by the city council to the city’s department heads, he was limited to delegating the actual operational authority to those below him.
In late May, the city council became concerned that  Compton may have bypassed the public works director in approving payments relating to six public works contracts in an amount totaling $81,851. those contracts were entered into without Compton conferring with the public works department beforehand.
While it was anticipated that the city attorney’s office would have completed its review of the matter and would have provided a conclusion to the city council by this point, there has been no word on that outcome or conclusion.
Of the  $81,851 in unauthorized spending Compton is believed to have been engaged in, the Sentinel has identified four recipients of $75,000 of that total.
Beginning in August 2013, Compton retained for $25,000 the services of Imperial Beach-based Government Staffing Services to perform a long term financial modeling project. In October 2013 Compton retained on the city’s behalf the services of Fullerton-based Revenue & Cost Specialists, Ltd. at a cost of $12,000 for a development impact report. In March 2014 Compton retained the services of Lancaster-based Passantino Anderson Communications LLC at a cost of $25,000 for work on the Colton and Grand Terrace Wastewater Project. Compton also retained in March the Carlsbad-based firm of BW Research Partnership at a cost of $13,000 to work on the Colton and Grand Terrace Wastewater Project.
Without giving indication of what the city attorney’s report indicates or even if it has been completed, the city council gave notice of the rotation plan. They said tapping existing staff members to fill in will save the city the expense  of hiring a caretaker city administrator.

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