A sign marking the entrance to the city of Scotts Valley in Santa Cruz County.
(Kevin Painchaud / Lookout Santa Cruz)

Scotts Valley creates finance manager position, hires fiscal consultant in interim

The Scotts Valley City Council voted Wednesday night to create a finance manager position and bring in a consultant until one can be found. The council also elected to raise the salary of the city clerk in order to attract a new hire.

Scotts Valley will hire a finance manager and, until that position is filled, city officials will pay a consultant to help oversee the financial health of the city, the city council decided Wednesday evening.

The need for a finance manager emerged as city staff reviewed the structure of the Administrative Services Department. That process “revealed a disproportionate gap in responsibilities” between the top of the department and middle managers.

The solution? Creating a finance manager position “with primary management responsibility for the finance functions of the department,” including accounting, audits, financial statements, budgeting and purchasing, according to a staff report.

If the city fills the job with an internal candidate, it can keep that person’s former job vacant, lessening the financial burden of the new position to about $13,728, plus benefits, over the next six months, when the city’s budget year ends. If filled by an outside candidate, the city could spend an extra $46,920 to $62,868, plus benefits, through the end of June 2021.

City officials didn’t indicate whether they had an internal candidate in mind.

The finance manager’s annual salary will be between $93,840 and $125,736 — 15% below average for other small to mid-size cities in the region, but still enough “to draw qualified applicants,” the staff report said.

Until a finance manager is found, a consulting firm will be paid up to $120,000 for six to seven months of work at a rate of $200 per hour, the council decided. The firm, Management Partners, previously helped the city build a “fiscal sustainability plan,” and handle financial reporting. As part of its scope of work, Management Partners will continue filing claims with FEMA for the city to be reimbursed for expenses related to damage caused by the CZU Lightning Complex Fire.

“Through this body of work, MP has unique knowledge of the city’s financial conditions and internal systems and can most effectively assist the city,” staff wrote in a report.

The council also took steps to recruit a new city clerk, who serves dual roles as the city’s record keeper and liaison between the council and residents. Tracy Ferrara, who has held the job for the last 16 years, is retiring, and the city hasn’t found someone qualified for the job, “despite the city’s best efforts.”

After struggling to hire a replacement in October 2020, staff reviewed clerks’ salaries in comparable small to mid-sized cities and found that the city’s current salary range fell 31% below average for total compensation (salary plus benefits) and 36% below the average for salary alone.

In order to make the job more attractive to the candidate pool that “is far more limited than for other” positions, the council voted to raise the salary by $24,000.

Even with that increase, the city clerk’s pay would be about 12% below the market average, according to staff. The new annual salary range is between $91,356 and $122,376.