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Ken Striplin’s new contract approved

City Council voted 4-1 in favor of paying city manager $220,000 a year

Posted: September 12, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 12, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Ken Striplin

 

The Santa Clarita City Council voted to pay Assistant City Manager Ken Striplin $220,000 annually when he steps into the role of city manager early next year.

The council voted 4-1, with Councilman TimBen Boydston voting no, following a closed session at Boydston’s request on Tuesday.

“I have full confidence in Mr. Striplin,” Boydston said after the vote. “My exception with the way the contract is laid out (is that) I believe all raises at the executive level should be merit-based.”

Striplin’s contract includes a suggested 5 percent pay raise, in 2014 and 2016.

Councilwoman Marsha McLean stressed — and City Attorney Joe Montes confirmed — that the City Council still has the final say on all raises.

The contract approved Tuesday was the result of a meeting between Mayor Frank Ferry and Councilman Bob Kellar, and two meetings the pair had with Striplin, Ferry said.

Bypassing a national candidate search, the City Council voted 4-1 on Aug. 30 to have Striplin fill the position being vacated by City Manager Ken Pulskamp, who s retiring at the end of the year.

Ferry said the decision to promote Striplin outright was out of a desire to hire the candidate the council wanted, versus doing a national search when there is no intent of hiring anyone else.

“Having interviewed thousands of people, people can make themselves look outstanding on paper,” he said, referring to Striplin’s demonstrated track record.

The council’s decision was met largely with support during the public-comment period.

“Had you spent the $40,000 to $50,000 necessary (for a national search) you would’ve found the grass isn’t any greener on the other side of the fence,” Newhall resident Duane Harte said. “That money can be used for other projects.”

If Striplin wasn’t the right person for the job, Harte said, “he would have been replaced long ago.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Steve Arklin, who defined Stripin as “a solid member of our community. ... You can’t buy that.”

While congratulating Pulskamp on his retirement and Striplin on his new position, Alan Ferdman of Canyon Country questioned the process of Striplin’s promotion.

“This represents another library-esque rush to judgment,” he said. “What happened to the process of posting a job opening? ... Isn’t it possible someone may bring a new perspective to the table?

“I do not believe anything asked or said tonight will make a difference. This is merely a public sideshow.”

Striplin has worked for Santa Clarita for 17 years and has been assistant city manager for the past eight. He is also manager of the city’s personnel office.

During council member reports, Ferry noted that on Tuesday the neighborhoods of Fair Oaks Ranch and Jakes Way were officially annexed into the city. Kellar pointed out the annexation makes Santa Clarita the third largest city in Los Angeles County.

Earlier in the meeting, Striplin reviewed the results of the city’s recent public-opinion poll, that polled 400 city residents in early August. The city conducts the survey every two years.

“It’s a good gauge ... to determine the level of satisfaction,” Striplin said.

He touted the city’s 82 percent total approval rating, noting that the state government currently has a 32 percent approval rating.

In a change from recent years, Striplin said when it comes to retail, the majority of those polled want an Applebee’s restaurant, ahead of Cheesecake Factory and Nordstrom’s. Previously, the latter two were at the top of the list.

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