Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Taft City Council Drafts Response To Grand Jury Report

TAFT, Calif. -- The City Council went through a scathing Grand Jury report line-by-line to address the findings and decide on whether to implement the recommendations jury members suggested.

Roughly half of the findings were statements of fact, and agreed upon unanimously, but the ones that offered opinions on whether City Manager Bob Gorson had the authority to grant pay raises to city department heads without an explicit resolution of the City Council were sharply debated.

The Grand Jury sided with City Attorney Kathy Gibson, who argued the city council had the final say on approving pay raises. But a second opinion obtained by the city from an independent attorney argued the council's budgetary approval process was enough guidance to allow Gorson to negotiate raises on his own.

The ambiguity over the pay raises was solved a few weeks ago, when the council approved a package of resolutions explicitly stating that the council has the final say on authorizing staff pay.

The jury offered eight recommendations, including more training for council members, an investigation into whether the raises were a gift of public funds, and to hold Gorson accountable for his actions.

Most of the other recommendations require further analysis, Mayor Dave Noerr said. That includes what to do with Gorson, who will be party to a personnel evaluation during closed session of the city council next week.

The council is drafting a procedures manual, which was one of the recommendations, but said much of the training recommended by the Grand Jury has already been completed.

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