Sierra Madre’s new city manager faces similar challenges from previous city (Pasadena Star News link): As the city’s incoming city manager, Gabriel Engeland will inherit many similar issues he faced at the top position in the small town of Trinidad, Colorado — ailing infrastructure, low revenues, high expenses.
The Michigan native, who officially began his new position on Monday, said the city’s challenges are one of the reasons he was drawn to applying to the position.
“Sierra Madre appears to be at a critical juncture,” said the 37-year-old. “Water management will be a big thing; it was a big thing in Colorado.”
Engeland has worked in city government in Arizona and Kansas before serving Trinidad as city manager for two years. He has a bachelors in community development from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas.
“He came in very well prepared. He knows what he’s getting into,” councilman John Capoccia said. “We have some fiscal challenges ahead of us. He has an impressive list of accomplishments, he’s very personable and easy to work with. I hope he can provide sound management, and working with the council and citizens to make sure that their expectations are met.”
Engeland said he’s ready to get started on tackling several issues in the city with the main ones being fixing the city’s water infrastructure and especially how to pay for those projects, along with other projects and services in the city.
“My plan is to start with a zero-based budget as a way to prioritize the city’s needs,” he said. “We will go through each line item with the goal of shrinking government spending.”
As of now, Engeland doesn’t see any staff layoffs in the near future, but will eliminate any open positions, and hopes to rein in the budget while still ensuring “services to the citizens aren’t impacted.”
“It’s going to be a fun summer; (the city and city council) have a lot of big decisions ahead of us,” he said.
Engeland was chosen after a quick recruitment and interviewing process since the retirement announcement by former city manager Elaine Aguilar. After nine years, Aguilar retired in December 2016 but agreed to stay on as interim city manager until March 13.
With an annual salary of $182,000 and benefits package, Engeland has committed to five years at the city.
Along with his wife and newborn daughter, Engeland has relocated to Sierra Madre as well.
“The city is amazing,” said Engeland. “Sierra Madre is very authentic, very genuine; we’re really enjoying it so far. I’m excited professionally and personally.”
Mod: So here's the news. Sierra Madre is authentic and genuine. Whatever that means. The new City Manager went to college, and is going to cut spending without reducing staffing or cutting services. This while also accepting financial compensation far higher than that of any of his predecessors. All very traditional approaches here. And Sierra Madre, a city that just raised its utility taxes to amongst the very highest levels ever seen in California, is the victim of "low revenues." It is, I suppose, if you are trying to create the impression that taxes need to be raised yet again. Always a strong possibility. It would certainly help to explain why John Capoccia likes Gabe so much.