OCEANSIDE — Oceanside has officially offered Yuba City, Calif. City Manager Steven Jepsen the position of Oceanside city manager. Jepsen formerly served as Oceanside city manager from 2000 to 2006.
Jepsen signed a contract accepting the position.
The City Council will formally vote to hire Jepsen for the position Oct. 16 and he will begin the job as city manager in mid-November.
Jespen’s salary is in the range of $230,000 a year, which is about the same salary as current City Manager Peter Weiss.
His contract is also said to include an insurance clause that entitles him to one year’s pay and severance pay if he is voted out of office by the next elected City Council.
The current council is split on the decision to hire Jepsen.
Mayor Jim Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez do not support his appointment. They served on the 2006 City Council and said Jepsen left under a dark cloud, although no wrongdoing was legally proven against him.
Jepsen is said to have been connected to a city employee who hired an underqualified friend for a city job and was let go along with the new hire, and another city employee who moved city dirt to a residential property under the darkness of night.
Wood said he would preferred to have gone through a search process to find a city manager the entire City Council agrees upon.
“It was kind of a done deal in the back room,” Wood said. “They didn’t want to go any further.”
Councilmen Jack Feller, Jerry Kern and Gary Felien said they support hiring Jepsen.
Feller also served on the 2006 City Council, and recommended Jepsen for the job.
“He started an awful lot of good things here,” Feller said. “He knows the cost of things and what’s necessary to make a coastal city thrive.”
“There never was a cloud in my eyes,” Feller added. “It’s distant past now.”
Kern also praised Jepsen. He said Jepsen is supported by the Oceanside business community and has met and gets along with current city department heads.
“I’m happy to have him back,” Kern said. “The business community is ecstatic. I haven’t heard one negative comment outside of a couple of colleagues.”
While previously serving as Oceanside city manager Jepsen issued several million dollars in pension obligation bonds, which significantly reduced Oceanside’s interest payments and unfunded pension liabilities to CalPERS.
The 2005-06 fiscal year ended with a city budget of more than $30 million in general fund reserves.
“A wealth of knowledge and experience is what he brings to the table,” Kern said.
Jepsen said he recognizes that Oceanside has political challenges and vows to work with all City Council members.
“Oceanside is a great place to live and a wonderful community,” Jepsen said. “It has a lot going for it. It has potential for a great future.”
Some of Jepsen’s initial tasks will be to appoint a new police chief and head of the finance department.
Weiss will stay on to get Jepsen up to speed. Kern said Weiss and Jepsen have worked together, have a strong relationship, and the transition is expected to go smoothly.