San Ramon's City Council plans to move quickly to replace retiring City Manager Herb Moniz, who will leave the job in three months.
"My plan was to return and stay for two years and here it is six years later," Moniz wrote in a letter delivered to council members. "My current employment contract is up in March 2011. On careful thought and consideration, I've decided to retire."
At $359,669 a year, according to a state database, Moniz is the highest-paid city manager in California, a fact that came to light in the wake of a salary scandal in the small Southern California town of Bell.
Moniz's retirement announcement leaves the city in a unique position among Bay Area localities. Mayor Abram Wilson and council members have justified the city manager's high pay, saying it's offset by the fact that San Ramon doesn't have an assistant city manager.
While that may be a cost saver, it also leaves the city without a qualified person to take the helm if a new city manager isn't hired before Moniz leaves in March.
Wilson said San Ramon will move quickly to fill the slot.
"We'll pull out the qualifications (from Moniz's job description) to apply, and we'll do interviews as soon as possible," Wilson said. "The posting should go out the first of the year. Hopefully, we'll have someone by March. That's our goal."
Asked if city council members will look in-house for a new city manager, Wilson replied, "We always look for the best person for that position."
Moniz was hired in 1985 and worked his way up through the ranks of San Ramon administration. He was fired in 2002 by a newly elected City Council majority, then rehired as city manager in 2004 at the same salary that his replacement, Gail Waiters was getting and has successfully negotiated increases of $100,000 since then.
At this point, it's unlikely San Ramon also will hire an assistant city manager.
"Not at this time," said Scott Perkins, San Ramon's vice mayor. "There are only two employees that work directly for the City Council. That's the city manager and city attorney."
Perkins said hiring an assistant city manager "is really the purview of the city manager.
"That's a decision that the city manager would have to make," he said.
But Wilson said San Ramon won't suffer too badly if a new city manager isn't found before Moniz leaves.
"I think that we are so well structured that we will be able to function at the same level until we have someone," Wilson said. "We give department heads the ability to run their department, and I think that's the key that's made San Ramon so strong and we count on that."