Cambria's general manager will stay put

Jerry Gruber withdraws from consideration for Morro Bay city manager’s post

ktanner@thetribunenews.comJuly 17, 2014 

Over the past year or so, Cambria’s services district has lost a significant amount of institutional knowledge through the resignations and retirements of key personnel.

It doesn’t appear now that Jerry Gruber, general manager for the Cambria Community Services District, will be part of that wave of resignations anytime soon.

Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons confirmed in an email response to The Cambrian on July 5 that Gruber had been in a pool of applicants for the city manager post, “though he withdrew” from consideration, Irons said.

Gruber said Monday that he withdrew his name because he wants to see completed an emergency water supply for the often parched community that’s enduring water rationing and hyper-mode conservation methods.

“I want to see this through to the end,” he said, adding “It’s not the right time” to make a career move.

Gruber added that the district has other infrastructure needs that must be addressed soon, and he wants to help with those, too.

The Grubers’ Cambria home, which they bought in 2005, is up for sale. He and wife Melanie plan to move to North County, he said, because she has developed some health issues related to Cambria’s climate and forest.

The fact that the general manager would even apply for a job somewhere else in “Cambria’s hour of need” upset some district ratepayers, such as plumber Greg Sesser, who said he feels betrayed.

“We’re going through the biggest deal since the waste-water treatment plant was put in,” Sesser said Tuesday, “and the leader of our tribe tried to escape through the back door. If he’d have gotten the job, we’d have seen nothing of him but dust and taillights. The whole thing stinks.”

High-stress jobs

There’s no doubt that jobs at the services district have been high stress lately, with ultra-tight budgets, sparse staffing levels and a drought so severe the district might run out of water before the rains arrive.

To combat that looming shortage, the district is installing an emergency water supply project estimated to cost at least $8 million, an amount that has some ratepayers officially protesting a proposed increase in how much they’ll pay for their water service.

The Board of Directors is to decide about the rate hike July 24 (the meeting starts at 12:30 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Building, 1000 Main St.).

Among the most recent district resignations were Utilities Manager Mike Finnigan, district Clerk Kathy Choate, Water Department Supervisor Jim Adams, Finance Officer Alleyne LaBossiere and Finance Clerk Kathy Frye. Several employees have taken medical leaves to deal with stress.

With district since 2010

Gruber joined the district in November 2010 as utilities manager, with an annual salary of $113,856. He was bumped up to the general manager position after his predecessor, Tammy Rudock, was dismissed in April 2011.

Gruber’s 2013 contract gave him an annual salary of $157,500, plus benefits. The contract has no expiration date.

The board is to consider Gruber’s annual performance evaluation in a closed session following the July 24 meeting.

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