A flap over a salary package greeted Monday's appointment of Daryl Jordan as the new Director of Engineering Services/City Engineer for the city of Ceres, which relieves City Manager Toby Wells of the responsibility.
Wells was wearing three hats after he was promoted as city manager on March 17.
"I'm ready to take that hat off - it'll help a lot," said Wells. "I'm happy that he's here."
As the Denair resident sat in the audience waiting for his appointment, he was subjected to council disagreement over his salary. Councilman Mike Kline wondered if Jordan needed to be a department head with salary steps starting so high.
"I do not feel that this position and classification we need to start the position at one step below the top scale," said Kline. He suggested starting at a lower step and no step increase until a year has passed.
Wells reminded the council that as a department head, Jordan will be overseeing a smaller department but one that accounts for $25 million of the city budget.
Kline also was opposed to a three-month severance package for Jordan and against allowing Jordan from being paid for unused health coverage cafeteria plan dollars. He also wanted tighter rules about unused sick leave. He suggested the new rules apply to all new employees hired such as Jordan but not existing employees.
Wells said the agreement and recruitment were based on existing terms and changing them at the last minute would not be fair to Jordan.
"If the council wishes to make these type of changes, we need to do those before we do our recruitment because these benefits that were indicated in this agreement were what was used as part of our agreement process," said Wells.
Councilmember Linda Ryno suggested not starting out steps as high for department heads out of fairness to other employees who start on lower steps. She said the city has two tenured department heads who are at step B so it doesn't seem fair to start out Jordan at step E.
Wells countered that comparing salaries is like comparing apples to oranges, noting "it's not about comparing to existing employees; it's about the person qualified to do the job. No disrespect to our other department heads but they can't do this job. This job is specific ... and that skill set is different than other department heads. I'm not going to apologize for the recruitment process and for getting the best person for the job because of the old adage... you get what you pay for."
A total of 16 persons applied for the city engineer job. Those 16 were narrowed down to eight with the top three interviewed.
When the employment agreement came to a vote, Kline and Ryno were on the short end of a 3-2 approval.
Jordan, 47, has a "good balance" between public and private engineering, Wells said. Beginning in 2009, he worked three years as Merced's city engineer. Jordan currently has his own private firm, Jordan Pacific Engineering. He worked as a contract engineer for the city of Atwater reviewing its development plans.
Jordan's engineering background has included coordinating commercial developments for a number of major retailers including Home Depot, Lowes, Wal-Mart and Auto Zone. Jordan has managed subdivision design for projects ranging from five acres to 600 acres. He has worked on commercial projects all along the West Coast and Arizona and New Mexico, He also worked on traffic evaluation and design on projects in Tulare and Fresno counties.
Prior to owning his own firm, Jordan was co-owner of Sierra del Pacifico Engineering in Atwater. He was the regional manager for CEI Engineering in Fresno, a project manager for Quad Knopf in Visalia and a project manager for Thompson Hysell Engineers in Modesto.
He earned his bachelor's degree in civil engineering at California State University Fresno. Jordan also has a bachelor's degree in biomechanics/exercise physiology, also from Fresno State.
Wells was officially made city manager as he continued to serve as the Public Works Director and city engineer. Wells told the council earlier this year that "doing all three jobs, it's not likely that I'm going to do any one of those three perfectly as well as I'd like to."