Two Years Since Montebello’s Last City Administrator

By Elizabeth Hsing-Huei Chou, EGP Staff Writer

Montebello’s top administrative seat is vacant once again, as the city council makes another attempt at choosing the best person for the job.

While some on the city council indicate they are close to making a decision, it is unclear if the latest recruitment process will yield a permanent pick or yet another short-term fill-in.

Ever since its last city administrator, Richard Torres, retired, Montebello has served as a revolving door for temporary administrators, with as many as four people coming through in the past two years.

One administrator quit amid disagreements over a police chief pick, and another left after his recommendations for fixing the budget were met with resistance from the city council. Yet another was dismissed by the city council.

The city’s latest interim city administrator, Larry Kosmont, departed on March 11, leaving Assistant Administrator Keith Breskin to run the city. Breskin has been on a $14,000 month-to-month contract since January.

Last month, Kosmont predicted there would be a smooth transition and that a permanent administrator would be picked by March. The city drew eighty applicants, he said.

But the latest batch of candidates to take over the position permanently were interviewed over a month ago during a Feb. 9 special meeting, and after a March 14 closed session meeting with recruitment firm Bob Murray & Associates, a final decision still had not been made.

“The city is currently evaluating the next steps concerning the position of city administrator and are still in the process of finding a city administrator,” City Attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman told EGP on Tuesday.

He would not confirm whether the recruitment company had concluded its relationship with the city, but said the firm had “performed services under the contract and done the recruitments requested.”

The human resource director anticipates there may be some type of action at the next meeting. “They are in the process of making a final decision in closed session,” Human Resources Director Paul Loehr said.

Even though the city has “seen a stop to the wanton spending of years gone by,” the person they pick will face “rough seas” ahead, said Frank Gomez, who thinks the city will need additional revenue next year with property and sales taxes not expected to cover city expenses.

“Like many other cities, our options include cutting services, raising taxes, borrowing like last year to offset cash flow problems during the year, or a combination of the above. With this in mind, it is important that we hire a strong, apolitical city administrator who is neither going to sugarcoat the problems our city faces nor the solutions to continue us on the right track started in 2009,” Gomez said.

Councilman Jack Hadjinian told EGP Tuesday that following the interviews in February, they have “narrowed down the list” of candidates.

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March 22, 2012  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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