Menlo Park struggles to fill mayoral vacancies | News

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In March, when members of the municipal council of Menlo Park discussed a study on the economy of the city center of the city, it reminded them how vacancies are straining the resources of the city ​​and its ability to pursue urgent and less urgent projects like downtown improvements.

When Drew Combs Board member inquired about the progress of hiring an economic development planner, city Acting Director Justin Murphy said that this was one of some 40 open jobs in the city a total of 271.75 full time equivalent positions in the budget, citing a report January 25 staff. The total number includes members of city council, according to Murphy. Part of the problem? The team that recruits job candidates suffering itself “staffing challenges,” Murphy said at the time.

A new report from the city shows that the number of vacancies is not so deep that a few months ago, but city staff on staffing issues remain: about 27 municipal positions are unfilled, which represents a vacancy rate of 10%, and 10 of them are intended for management and management positions.

Vacancies are felt in almost all departments, administrative public works, through libraries and community services to the City Manager’s office. This includes a director of community development, a senior civil engineer, urban planners and building inspector, said Murphy.

The 10 positions of leadership and direction concerning administrative services, community development, library and community services, public works and general manager of the office.

Five of those roles are filled by an acting or interim employee, the report said. This includes Murphy, Acting City Manager, which acts essentially as CEO of the city and is responsible for budget execution and implementation of the policies adopted by the City Council.

According to an April 12 staff report, the city has been working with a management consulting firm, Hawkins Group, to find a permanent city manager since September.

The long-time employee of the city, Murphy took office Acting in January, after the director of the city at the time, Starla Jerome-Robinson, has abruptly resigned months before it takes its retirement.

Since then, the city council has held at least seven closed meetings regarding the position of city manager.

“It’s fair to say that Menlo Park, like other Bay Area towns and private employers, is having real challenges filling its vacancies,” said Mayor Betsy Nash. Nash declined to comment on current hiring progress for the city manager position.

On April 12, the City Council approved an increase of $ 10 000 salary Murphy, following the recommendation of a staff report which indicated that he had “served the organization and the community” and that he had been in the acting role for longer than expected.

“We try to do our best to provide service to the community,” Murphy said.

These empty seats not only pose a problem for the city’s immediate priorities, but also those that Menlo Park might want to pursue in the near future.

The staffing report was also attached to a draft budget report for the city’s next fiscal year that outlines some of the expected costs for new hires on council’s agenda this week for a reason, Murphy said. If Menlo Park wants, for example, to restart its popular gym program, which has been closed since the start of the pandemic, the city will have to add an additional 5.75 full-time employees, which could further strain human resources staff. from the city. .

“There is a limited capacity of staff who are actually experts in recruiting,” Murphy said. “That’s probably our pinch point as well.”

On Tuesday, when council members reviewed a proposed budget for Menlo Park and some of the potential budget priorities requested of various city departments, both Nash and council member Cecilia Taylor said they did not want to add to the burden of city ​​resources to find gym employees at a time when the city still faces vacancies.

“Since we have a 24% vacancy rate in our department of community development … I think we need to focus all resources on these vacancies,” said Nash.

Another indication of the city’s current staffing issues? The report itself was prepared by Mary Morris-Mayorga, who is listed as Director of Administrative Services and “Additional Assistance Retiree,” referring to a statewide program that allows qualified retirees to in a temporary position with little or no training.

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