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Rohnert Park City Council OKs city manager pick

A 10-year veteran of Rohnert Park government was appointed city manager Tuesday on a 4-0 vote, with one council member abstaining from the vote over concerns about the proposed salary package.

Darrin Jenkins, assistant city manager and, over the past month, interim city manager, will be paid $189,000 to start, $24,000 more than his predecessor, who left for another position Nov. 6.

There was no suspense about the vote. No candidate search was done and city officials had put out a press release Monday under Mayor Pam Stafford's name praising Jenkins.

But Councilwoman Gina Belforte said she could not vote for Jenkins with his attendant salary.

“Darrin, I think you're going to do a good job, and if I could vote just for you, I would ... and you'd get a yes,” Belforte said.

“But based on where we stand today with our finances, based on the heels of Measure A, I can't support the contract,” Belforte said, referring to the indefinite extension of a half-cent city sales tax that voters approved Nov. 5.

Jenkins also has been the city's engineer, public works director and development services director.

His contract includes a $398 monthly vehicle allowance, but also a key concession: the exclusion of retiree medical benefits. That will save the city more than $200,000 in future premiums, Stafford said.

“We have a committed person here, a person who knows this community,” Stafford said Tuesday.

Stafford and Vice Mayor Joe Callinan negotiated the contract.

“What I'm looking for in a city manager is that he is going to treat it like it's his own business, and Darrin does that,” Callinan said. “He cares more about this city than most people do.”

After the meeting, Jenkins said he would move quickly to launch a search for a new assistant city manager.

He replaces Gabe Gonzalez, who left the city after three years to take a job in Kansas. Gonzalez was credited often by council members with leading the city back from a fiscal crisis so severe that officials were at one point talking about declaring bankruptcy.

Jenkins said that the city, which had a budget deficit of $1.2 million at last count, has the wind at its back now but still is confronting challenges.

“We've got the city going on the right track, definitely,” he said. “We also have some financial difficulties that we have to face, and we're going to face them head on.”

You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 or jeremy.hay@pressdemocrat.com.

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