In a document released by the Oakdale City Manager’s Office on city salaries, the City of Oakdale paid over $415,000 to just three employees who were initially designated as temporary, part-time, hourly employees, hired to guide the city to solvency during the absence or after the removal of certain upper-management employees.
Greg Wellman, hired to serve as interim city manager and later moved to an operations manager, was paid over a $205,000 salary. Dee Tatum, who was brought aboard by Wellman to oversee the public works department, was paid over $115,000. Stan Feathers, interim city manager from July to December, received just over $92,000 for his tenure.
Referred to as “hired guns” by critics, the arrangement with all three former Merced area public sector administrators was touted as a cost-saving measure for the city by having to pay only an hourly wage, without benefits. Since all are receiving a public retirement, they supposedly had a 960-hour limit on the amount of time they could work. The 960-hour limit was later waived when Oakdale approached the California Public Employee Retirement System (CalPERS) and requested an “exigency” extension for Wellman.
“This is what I said during my campaign,” said Oakdale Councilman Farrell Jackson, who had previously referred to Wellman as a “carpetbagger” by only trying to enhance his retirement. “The numbers don't add up. These guys aren’t saving us money.”
Jackson points to the money disbursed in payouts to the removed management employees’ contract obligations and time accruals and the salaries paid to the “part-timers” estimating over $1 million was spent by the city.
“We could use that money right now,” Jackson said. “We would be sitting in a better position.”
Mayor Pat Paul defends the actions of using the interim managers and what they were paid, stating she was the one who went to the state looking for the exemption for Wellman.
“What he (Wellman) did for us was invaluable,” said Paul. “I told them (CalPERS) he kept us from becoming a Stockton.”
Paul added that the three were each doing the jobs of two or three people.
“I’d rather pay one good person the money we paid, than the two or three who weren’t doing their jobs,” said Paul.
“I will tell you frankly, it’s all terrible,” said Councilman Tom Dunlop who confirmed that a “dire need” extension was needed for Wellman. “We should have hired people when people were let go and done it right.”
For the entire story, read the March 20 edition of The Leader.