Dunsmuir councilors approve support for interim city manager

Lauren Steinheimer
Dunsmuir City Councilors Josh Spurlock and Nick Syrrist and new interim city manager Randy Johnsen during the regular council meeting March 5, 2015.

New Dunsmuir interim city manager Randy Johnsen attended his first city council meeting Thursday, March 5, and most of the business discussed focused on supporting his duties, such as obtaining a new cell phone and hiring a part-time accountant to help bring financial accounting and records up to date.

Johnsen arrived with a personal cell phone on the AT&T network, which council member Josh Spurlock described as “about as useful as a rock” in Dunsmuir. The council unanimously agreed to purchase a cell phone with a Verizon plan that Johnsen can use during his time in Dunsmuir. The phone will remain with the city for the next city manager to use.

It was explained that city manager Brenda Bains had been using her personal cell phone, and the city was paying the base fee, so there currently is no phone available for use by the city manager.

Council unanimously agreed to employ Pamela Russell as a temporary part-time accountant to assist Johnsen one or two days per week at the rate of $35 per hour.

Mayor Dave Keisler said Russell “has over 14 years of experience with Fund Balance (software) working for a local governmental agency doing this exact same work. This person will continue her full-time job, using vacation and/or weekend days to help us out.” It was agreed that her first day of work would be the following day, March 6.

When Keisler asked Johnsen to clarify the need for this assistance, Johnsen replied, “I’ve become aware of most of the status of your financial reporting, and you need more help than one person at two days per week. So, I just highly recommend it. It’s available, it’s local, and she comes very highly recommended by two of the city managers in the area who know her.”

Council discussed the possibility of re-introducing a ballot item for the November election regarding the transaction and use tax to help fund the library. Johnsen said the cost to hold an election might be $10,000.

Tim Holt, representative of Friends of the Library, said the organization wants to see it back on the ballot in the future. He pointed out that costs vary from one election to another.

Council member Bryce Craig suggested developing an advisory committee to research details on the exact cost and timeline of holding an election for the imposition of a transaction and use tax while also seeking other ways to find funding for the library.

Council unanimously agreed to give direction to the interim city manager to meet with the Friends of the Library and other interested parties and report back at the end of the month with more information.

Fire Chief Dan Padilla presented the city fire department’s Insurance Services Offices report. He said that the city’s ranking has moved from four to three, and explained that rating was based on a scale of one to ten, with a score of one being the best and ten being the worst. Padilla explained that the audit reflects training records, equipment records, overview of maintenance, and water supply, among other things. Three is a favorable score that reflects well on the Department, and Padilla was thanked by the mayor and city council for his hard work.

Lilly Jones, who has been working as groundskeeper at the local cemetery, spoke regarding her request for city funding for a project to enhance the cemetery. She announced that she is researching a software program that would digitize records and make it easier for visitors to get information. She said sign posts need to be installed to label the plots and help visitors know where they are within the cemetery. She said Dunsmuir High School and seventh and eighth grades are going to be working with FireWhat on a GIS mapping project of the cemetery grounds.

Keisler offered to meet with Jones and help her develop a budget and source funds and volunteer labor for the post labeling project. They agreed to table the decision to use city funding for the projects until the end of the month, when Jones expects to have more information on the exact cost.

Public commenters at the meeting included Tim Holt, who spoke highly of the public forum that was held in Dunsmuir the previous Saturday. Holt said the meeting was great and suggested more be held.

Council member Craig agreed that many great ideas were shared, and he is working on organizing the data that was collected.

Chamber of Commerce executive director Richard Dinges commented that the state of California is planning on putting more resources into visitor’s centers, which will help promote northern California. He’s hopeful it will help the effort to market Dunsmuir.