Paso Robles could have a new police chief in six to eight months as the City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a contract with a search firm.
A Los Gatos-based search firm, William Avery & Associates Inc., which has worked with the city since 1981, submitted a written proposal to conduct a $13,900 statewide search with the allowance for expenses of up to $5,500, according to city documents. The money would come from the city’s general fund.
Former Chief Lisa Solomon, 43, resigned from her position April 2 after public attention swelled around her when a former officer accused her of sexual harassment and another filed a lawsuit claiming officers were required to meet illegal ticket quotas.
The findings of a city investigation into the allegations have not been made public.
The council’s decision to go with Avery & Associates was unopposed by the public Tuesday night. Only two residents from the community gave input on the matter.
One of them was resident Kathy Barnett, who said she believes that moving forward with a third-party search is best for the public.
“Everyone in the department is too close to recent happenings. And in the public, I think you’d have too many complaints,” she said.
She also liked that Avery & Associates proposed that the city could split up its payments into three phases and that it offered the city a 20 percent discount on its regular search rate.
City staff solicited the firm for a proposal in March because of its experience with the city, officials said. Avery & Associates has assisted the city with its labor relations and executive searches before, and in the past two years has performed searches for seven police chiefs statewide.
The finalists for chief would undergo an interview, in-depth background check and City Council review.
Soliciting the council for information on what characteristics the city is seeking in a chief is among the firm’s next steps.
The base salary for the chief’s position would range from $124,000 to $157,644 after July 1, according to the city’s compensation plan for nonunionized employees. Internal and external candidates can apply.
Capt. Robert Burton is serving as interim chief until a permanent successor is found.