City Manager Toby Wells got a 3-2 green light from the Ceres City Council to begin searching for new employees to help engineer public works projects as one employee retires.
Wells asked to create a Senior Engineering Technician position as well as recruit for a Senior Civil Engineer and Associate Engineer. He said a long-term employee is set to retire and “creating a little bit of a need sooner than we would have hoped so we’re trying to expedite the process to get more operational capacity in the Engineering Department.” Wells said he wanted to begin the search because engineers are hard to come by and that projects like street overlays are being funded by Measure L.
“The sooner the better,” said Wells.
Vice Mayor Linda Ryno said she was concerned about moving forward because the council has yet to meet over crafting a budget.
“I don’t know how we can approve and recruit for these positions without knowing what our finances are,” said Ryno.
Wells noted that the positions are being paid for by water and sewer enterprise funds and not the discretionary General Fund. He also said any hiring wouldn’t be until after July 1 when the new budget is in place.
The city has only two licensed engineers – Wells and City Engineer Daniel Padilla.
Mayor Chris Vierra – a civil engineer by trade – acknowledged the difficulty in finding engineers.
“If we were talking about the General Fund I’d be a little more concerned about it but if we choose not to fund these positions … then we might not be doing some projects that we feel are important to do,” said Vierra. He also added: “Good luck in finding somebody in six months for these positions, I can tell you that right now.”
When the matter came to a vote Ryno and Councilman Channce Condit voted no while Vierra, Mike Kline and Bret Durossette supported the actions. Durossette said he didn’t want to “be tying the city manager’s hands if we’re going to be waiting until July 1 to do this recruitment.”
“He’s the expert engineer,” Durossette said of Wells. “He knows what the city needs and the city needs to have this position and this gentleman is leaving.”