The City of Colusa decided last week to part ways with interim City Manager Randy Dunn, bringing his five-year run at the position to a close.
The decision to immediately terminate Dunn’s employment agreement with the city was announced after a closed session meeting of the city council at 10 a.m. on Friday. The lone item listed on the agenda was a public employee performance evaluation for the position of interim city manager. The decision to move on from Dunn was made on a motion by Mayor Kirk Kelleher, which was seconded by Mayor Pro Tem Greg Ponciano. The council then voted unanimously, 5-0, to terminate Dunn’s employment agreement.
Kelleher said on Tuesday that Dunn was not terminated for cause, but that the council simply felt it was the right time to move in a different direction. Kelleher added that Public Works Administrative Director Jesse Cain has assumed the duties of interim City Manager, and that he would be officially appointed at an upcoming meeting.
“The only thing I can say about it is that Randy was a great manager. He didn’t do anything wrong, and we will always appreciate what he did for us over the last five years,” Kelleher said. “This has been the plan for years… we’ve been trying to groom Jesse to do that job, he has been doing a great job and we thought he deserved it and it was the right time to make it happen for him.”
Dunn’s employment as interim city manager came to an end on the heels of his retirement as the city’s fire chief: Dunn officially retired from the fire department at the end of December.
“I have given my heart and soul to this community for over 38 years,” Dunn wrote on Tuesday in response to a request for comment. “I strongly believe that I have served the people with honesty and integrity. I now look forward to enjoying my retirement from the City.”
As far back as September 2016, the city council was aware of Dunn’s planned retirement on Dec. 31, 2016. During their meeting on Sept. 6, 2016, the council voted to approve a new contract with Dunn, which went into effect after his retirement date. They also adopted a resolution for exception to the 180-day wait period for him to return to working for the city immediately after retiring.
Under the one-year employment agreement that was ultimately signed on Sept. 20, 2016, Dunn agreed to continue to serve as a part-time interim City Manager, temporarily providing the associated services as an at-will California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) annuitant. Under the Public Employee Retirement Law, there are limitations on the number of hours an annuitant can work – namely, that they cannot work more than 960 hours in a fiscal year. With that in mind, the city agreed to pay Dunn $67 per hour, and asked that he arrange his work schedule so as not to exceed 25 hours per week.
At the point the contract was signed, the city noted that Dunn had “honorably served the City of Colusa” as both a Fire Chief and Interim City Manager, and that the city “continues to require the services of a City Manager on a part time basis, based on the critical needs of the city.” The employment agreement also described Dunn as an “key player and manager in several ongoing projects for the city” including the Sacramento River boat ramp, water and sewer improvement, the development of a new Community Facilities District, waste water treatment plant improvement, and the annexation of the state park.
In a story written just prior to Dunn’s retirement as Fire Chief, he indicated that he was planning to stay on as Interim City Manager to see some of those projects through, but also noted that he was working to ready someone to take his place as Interim City Manager or City Manager.
So what changed? Kelleher declined to elaborate because it was a personnel issue.
“We’re in a situation where we can’t talk about it in any other way, other than to say that Randy did a great job, and we did not terminate his contract for cause. We just decided to go in a different direction. That’s really all I can tell you,” Kelleher said.