Holtville Council Approves City Manager’s $25,000 Payment » Holtville Tribune

HOLTVILLE – In recognition of the extra duties that Holtville City Manager Nick Wells performed in the absence of two key city employees, he will receive an additional one-time payment of $25,000 under an amended contractual agreement.

The idea of ​​providing Wells with the off-schedule payment, funded by American Rescue Plan Act funds, originated with the city council, which had initially offered it a higher amount in previous closed meetings.

Wells described the proposal as coming “out of the blue” and responded at the time that he would settle for just $10,000, he said before a majority of city council votes to approve the contractual agreement at its regular meeting on Monday. , February 28.

In the end, it was informally agreed in closed meetings to compensate Wells about $1,500 a month for the length of time he was to serve as finance supervisor and city clerk vacant in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wells also acknowledged that he found himself increasingly working outside of regular office hours, performing duties that would typically have fallen to the finance supervisor and city clerk.

“From my perspective, I feel good about taking this ($25,000) because of the extra work I’ve done outside of my 40-hour week,” Wells told the board ahead of their 4-1 vote. in favor of the agreement.

As part of Wells’ approved contractual agreement, he will receive an annual base salary of $107,120, which includes a 3% increase, retroactive to July 1, according to the employment contract.

The contract also offered separate increases of 2%, which would take effect on July 1 and July 1, 2023. The three-year contract will run from January 1 to December 31, 2025.

The contractual agreement was originally presented to City Council as a consent agenda item, but was withdrawn for further discussion at the request of Council Member Murray Anderson. He said he had missed the last meetings where the amended contract was discussed behind closed doors.

Although Anderson said he was okay with the series of pay raises and a monthly vehicle allowance of $50, Anderson balked at the idea of ​​providing Wells with a one-time payment of $25,000. Anderson also questioned why the board would agree to such an amount even after Wells indicated he would settle for less.

“Isn’t it the manager’s job to fill in when there’s a staff hole?” asked Anderson, who cast the council’s only vote against the resolution. “Isn’t that what a manager or supervisor does?”

Wells replied that whenever an employee comes to him to ask for extra compensation for any extra duties he gives them, the matter is decided by determining whether the extra duties can be done during the normal 40-hour work week. of the employee. In his case, Wells said he was performing duties that kept him busy well beyond his normal work schedule.

Councilman Mike Goodsell noted that the city likely would have paid significantly more than $25,000 in salary had it employed a finance supervisor and city clerk during the time Wells was covering those vacancies.

“It seemed reasonable to us as counsel that he be compensated for the extra time he put in,” Goodsell said.

The city currently has a finance supervisor, while Wells continues to serve as city clerk.

Out of concern for public perception, some board members also took issue with the one-time payment being called a “bonus,” even though the wording of the contractual agreement specifically referred to the payment as an “off-schedule one-time payment.” . premium.”

At Wells’ suggestion, the board agreed to change the wording of the contract to refer to payment as compensation.

Council Member Anderson also questioned why the position of finance supervisor remained vacant for so long after Kariza Preciado left in September 2020. Wells responded that the city had to hold three separate application periods after the first two rounds were n had failed to attract qualified candidates or resulted in candidates who ultimately chose not to pursue work. At the time of Preciado’s departure, the pay rate for the position was $22.23 per hour.

Current city finance supervisor Adriana Anguis was among the few to apply in the third round of the nomination period, Wells said. As pleased as he is with Anguis’ performance, Wells said he still wishes the city had received more applications from qualified individuals.

“I don’t like the fact that I only had two people to choose from,” he said.

Board member Goodsell also responded to Anderson’s question about the perceived delay in filling the position and explained that the board had never directed Wells to fill the position at will and inquired repeatedly about the status of the hiring process.

“We were doing our due diligence as a board to try to fill it out,” Goodsell said.

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In addition to the $25,000 in ARPA funds Wells will receive under his amended contractual agreement, he received $2,255 in ARPA funds after the city council voted Feb. 8 to distribute a total of $58,244 to its employees. full-time and fire department personnel. .

In total, the city received $1,583,822 in ARPA funds from the US Treasury Department. Wells was among 18 full-time city employees who were approved by council to receive a one-time “wage bonus.” These employees are expected to receive a total of $29,834 in ARPA funds, ranging from $250 to $2,255 for each worker.

Fourteen city fire department employees also won a total of $28,410. These employees risk receiving payments ranging from $250 to $5,232 for each worker.

Holtville City Manager Nick Wells (right) is pictured at a reception with two other finalists for the position of City Manager of Mineral Wells at the City Women’s Club on Thursday February 24. Wells insists it was just exploratory and he has no plans to leave any time soon. | PHOTO COURTESY OF ANN POWERS/MINERAL WELLS ZONE NEWS

When the question of Wells’ compensation came up, news that he was among the top candidates for a similar position in Mineral Wells, Texas did the same.

On Thursday, February 24, Wells had attended a reception with two other finalists for the position of City Manager of Mineral Wells at the city’s Women’s Club.. Still, despite appearing at the reception, Wells said he has no immediate plans to quit his job with the town of Holtville, even if he was offered the job at Mineral Wells.

“It was really nothing more than an exploratory thing,” Wells said of applying for the job in a Monday morning phone interview, Feb. 28. “I’m not too attached to the idea of ​​leaving anytime soon.”

The idea of ​​potentially finding a job elsewhere and moving out of county is something the Holtville native said he and his wife have been discussing lately. Texas was one such possible destination, he said.

Holtville Mayor Mike Pacheco was surprised to learn Wells had applied elsewhere and first heard about it Monday morning.

“When it comes to enforcement, you know, I have nothing against anyone trying to improve. I probably would have appreciated maybe a nudge from our city manager, but you know, things happen” , Pacheco said, “I don’t want to discourage anyone from trying to improve their job elsewhere.

Wells has served as City Manager of Holtville for more than seven years. His tenure is the longest of his predecessors since the late 1980s, when the city began keeping such employment records.

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Elaine R. Knight