SB Deputy City Managers – In Together In 2014 And Out Together In 2016

San Bernardino deputy city managers Nita McKay and Bill Manis are leaving the employ of the city, just two months after Mark Scott moved into position as the county seat’s top administrative officer.
Both McKay and Manis arrived in San Bernardino within weeks of one another in the fall of 2014, after being recruited by former city manager Allen Parker. The city at that time was under severe financial challenge, as Parker was seeking to steer the county’s largest city out of bankruptcy. San Bernardino filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in August 2012. McKay and Manis both brought to the city a line of financial expertise. McKay was assigned to deal with the city’s budget and internal financial structure, including assisting Parker in devising a bankruptcy exit plan. To her fell the responsibility of riding herd on a series of auditors/certified public accountants whose tardiness in delivering audits pertaining to the 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 fiscal years severely complicated the city’s status in the federal bankruptcy court of Judge Meredith Jury, who had imposed a May 30, 2015 deadline for the city’s submission of a bankruptcy exit plan. Manis was charged with overseeing economic development in the once-vibrant city that has lost its luster over the past three decades as it has fallen further and further into an economic malaise.
Not long after McKay arrived, she stepped into adversity and controversy. Just prior to her hiring, David Cain, who had lasted 18 months in the position of finance director, resigned. Cain, who had been hired in March 2013, exited in September 2014, appearing to have buckled under the seemingly interminable and intractable strain municipal officials faced in
attempting to right the city’s listing financial ship.
In December 2014, the city brought in Scott Williams, who had been the lead financial adviser for the Regional Governmental Services Authority in Napa and the finance director in Sonoma. Straightaway, Williams set to work on a financial discipline plan he calculated would tighten the city’s belt, reduce operating costs and create a modest savings in municipal budgetary operations so that a modicum of revenue could be diverted to making at least token payments to the city’s creditors who had been stiffed for so long. It was also expected that Williams would usher the auditing firm of Macias, Gini & O’Connell to complete several ongoing audits from previous years, as the data in those audits was a necessary component of the city’s bankruptcy exit strategy. The city had hired Macias, Gini & O’Connell to do that work after its previous long term relationship with its former auditing firm – Rogers, Anderson, Malody and Scott – went south. Rogers, Anderson, Malody and Scott proved unable to get its arms around the city’s colossal financial problems and the audit it was supposed to complete for fiscal year 2011-12 – just as the city was heading into bankruptcy – literally took two years to complete. That document was not submitted until June 2014.
In March 2015 it was reported that the production of the audits was severely behind schedule. In a rather feeble stab at creating accountability over the unfolding debacle, the city fired Williams, who had been in place for just three months.
McKay blamed – some said scapegoated – Williams for the delay in the delivery of the audits. McKay indicated that Williams had somehow obstructed the delivery of the information the auditing firm needed to go over to make its report.
But Williams’ departure did nothing to ameliorate Macias, Gini & O’Connell’s failure to perform. Indeed that firm delayed providing the needed audits until after the city submitted its bankruptcy exit game plan. Earlier this year, the city entered into its third arrangement within three years with a third auditing firm, the Pun Group, LLP, to complete that auditing work.
McKay’s departure, which came yesterday, March 31, was abrupt and was not announced officially until it was about to happen. It was unclear whether Scott, who took over in San Bernardino as city manager on February 8 after a previous stint as city manager in Burbank, requested her resignation or whether she departed of her own volition.
Manis, who submitted his letter of resignation to Scott on March 18 and in it cited a 10.2 to 7.3 percent drop in city unemployment, the addition of 597 new businesses and a 5.9 percent sales tax increase during his tenure, said he was leaving San Bernardino to become city manager of Rosemead.
The departures come as the city is undertaking a comprehensive review of its governing and managerial charter, and city officials are contemplating relieving the mayor of his role of close oversight of the city manager’s function. This presents an opportunity for Scott to perhaps add to or detract from his staff. Of San Bernardino County’s 24 cities, fewer than half have even a single assistant or deputy city manager and only San Bernardino and Rancho Cucamonga have two assistant or deputy city manager posts on their organizational charts.

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