Council OKs Hiring Director for Library, Recreation Depts.

The San Marino City Council has voted to fund and hire a community services director, setting up the hiring of a department head who will ultimately have control of both the Recreation Department and Crowell Public Library.
In approving the post, the council directed City Manager Marcella Marlowe at its meeting last week to eliminate the Recreation Department manager position at her discretion, the rationale being that the new director will be primarily focused on that department and that the money to pay for the position has to come from somewhere.
The decision arose from Marlowe’s recommendation to hire a community services director, a position that previously was utilized in San Marino but has been vacant and unfunded for some time. However, eliminating the position of recreation manager was the City Council’s idea, advanced by Councilman Ken Ude. The action was approved on a 3-1 vote, with Dr. Stephen Huang, the vice mayor, opposing and Councilwoman Susan Jakubowski absent.
Ude, in initiating the motion, said he felt that 80% of the community services director’s job would be to oversee Recreation. He also voiced support for creation of the position based on his involvement with a blue ribbon committee tasked with revamping the department.
“I think we desperately need a good plan for the Recreation Department,” he said.
Marlowe said the budget for the director position allowed up to $175,000 (including full benefits) and noted that around $12,000 of that could be recovered by canceling the 5% pay raises given to the Recreation manager and city librarian positions when the assistant city manager position was eliminated last year.
In advocating for the director position, Marlowe said she hoped to alleviate the Recreation manager’s burden of restructuring the department.
“There’s a lot of innovation, a lot of leadership and a lot of coordination necessary, and it really is appropriate to expect that kind of work from a director,” she said. “The blue ribbon committee has laid out a lot of tall orders, and a director is really the person to carry them out.”
Mayor Steve Talt, though supportive of adding a new director, bristled at the idea of adding to the bureaucracy without subtracting, leading to the decision to eliminate the manager position to recoup additional funds. Huang’s vote in opposition reflected his general opposition to bloating personnel and payroll.
Given the unexpected decision to ultimately eliminate the manager position, Marlowe said she had yet to determine a timetable for that move. The current recreation manager, Rosa Pinuelas, has held the job for around six years.

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