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Public gives input for city manager criteria

ENCINITAS — City Council received suggestions from several residents during the Feb. 9 meeting about the necessary qualifications of the next city manager. Although the city hired Sacramento-based Peckham & McKenney search firm to direct the hiring process, public input was sought.
The new hire will replace interim City Manager Phil Cotton, who is working under a temporary $15,000 monthly contract set to expire at the end of June.
Tony Kranz, a Leucadia resident who ran for a council seat in 2010, said that above all of the person’s qualifications to manage the city, the ability to remain independent-minded and neutral is imperative. “There is no more important attribute than maintaining neutrality,” he said.
Hiring an outsider could be a way of ensuring impartiality. Kranz said the city should hire someone who doesn’t come from Encinitas. He said it would be easier for such a person to rise above the city’s political conflicts, especially the divided nature of the current City Council, he added.
At least two residents focused on the executive hiring to shine a light on the city’s pension liability. Andrew Audet suggested the assistant city manager, Richard Phillips, step into the job. The Cardiff resident suggested in the alternative that the city look for a retiree from a cold climate and “lure” them to the city. Instead of a retirement pension, the city could offer a discounted home loan or another incentive.
Kevin Cummins of the Encinitas Taxpayers Association said the city should avoid getting locked into a costly pension plan for its next manager. He said this was a good opportunity for the council to take on pension reform and not offer a “defined contribution plan” for the next city manager.