PINETOP-LAKESIDE — In less than half an hour on July 1, the town council approved the consent agenda, entertained a Call to the Public with Northern Arizona Outreach and Constituent Services Representative Michelle Ralston of Sen. Mark Kelly’s office, introduced the newest member of the town’s administrative team — IT Specialist Ryan Van Patten and the town’s two new police officers, Gabriel Gauna and Collin Dalley — and considered the appointment of Finance Director Kevin Rodolph as assistant town manager — an item which was moved to July 15 for further consideration.
Town Manager Keith Johnson told councilors he had been considering bringing the matter of adding the title of assistant town manager to Rodoloph’s position for several months or longer, and provided a bit of history regarding his request.
Johnson said, “Back before I started there was two positions that were open. One was the finance director and one was the town manager position. Back before I was even interviewed or that they even posted for my position, the position of finance director was being sought to be filled. And, Kevin applied for that and was interviewed and was chosen by staff, and probably some of the council that served then, that served on the hiring committee. He was chosen by them — selected by them — to be the candidate for the finance director position. At that time they decided they also wanted to make him the manager; they wanted to make it a co-thing like Snowflake and Taylor do, but realizing that’s a lot of job for, you know, for two functions on one person. So, they ended up deciding to hold off. They decided we are going to bring on the manager first and then let him select. Then I threw my hat in the ring and it was a short search and so we hired him to be the finance director, so a little history there.”
Johnson said that over Rodolph’s career he has served three times as interim town manager for other government entities and in the past five years as finance director, he oversees the finance department, most of the responsibilities of the Human Resources Department, is involved in community and staff consultations, and a range of other projects within the town. With that rationale, Johnson said he feels it appropriate to add assistant town manager to Rodolph’s title.
The town’s two newest councilors, Sterling Beus and Paul Watson, who was actually town manager for Pinetop-Lakeside for 13 years and the town’s finance manager prior before that, both expressed a need for further discussion on the matter.
Noting full confidence in Rodolph, Beus said, “I just wonder if in a small community like this – other communities, where I have seen, they draw on other department heads at times to serve as interim when it is needed, and I have seen that as a good thing in other communities. I guess, like I said, I have full confidence in Kevin — he can certainly fill your shoes, but I just wondered, do we really need to do that? Do we need to have an assistant or deputy is the only question I would raise.”
But, Beus did follow up with an additional question, asking if Rodolph’s appointment might preclude other department heads from having the opportunity to serve as interim.
Johnson said his reasoning for having Rodolph in that role is for continuity so everyone understands who is in charge if he is not there. He also said that there are other small communities, even at Pinetop-Lakeside’s population size, that have such a recognized position.
Councilor Jim Snitzer, relating back to his corporate experience, said he always had to notify everyone who was in charge if he was out of the office.
“So, for me,” said Snitzer, “it just means having a main assistant so you don’t have to provide notice to anyone.”
Watson said, “Kind of the same thing for me. Absolutely, I have no qualms about Kevin. I guess the question is for a community of this size, with a level of services that we have, do we really need an assistant, and without any previous discussions before tonight, I don’t think I can fully answer that.”
Watson also asked for clarification regarding a compensation change for the added title or if there is a request for a compensation change different than the other employees.
Johnson said he was not asking for that.
“As I sent out to the council in a list, that’s not taking that into consideration; there’s a number of employees that we brought on that I felt like had really risen during these past few years, and so just trying to bring their salaries back into a figure that would be more comparable. But, no that would not be included in that. That would be asked for anyways,” said Johnson.
Irwin said, “My point of view is this is not going to impact our budget. It’s almost a formality because I see Kevin as Keith’s right hand person. There are other people who are qualified but it does seem like it makes sense to have that designated person.”
Bues said he would not mind having a little more time to consider the issue and even talk to staff.
That being agreeable to the other councilors, Irwin asked that it be added to the July 15 agenda and the meeting was adjourned.
The council meeting can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLKi03uomyg