PIEDMONT -- The City Council on Monday approved hiring for a new position created in the Police Department -- a support services manager.

The position supplants the hiring of a second police captain, which has been frozen for years. The move will save the city about $44,000 per year, police Chief Rikki Goede said.

Lisa Douglas, a 15-year dispatcher with Piedmont, was hired at a salary of $8,852 per month. Captains are paid about $150,000 per year; Douglas will earn $106,000 per year, the same as a sergeant's pay.

Goede conducted a search within and outside the department.

"There were 13 qualified applicants, but Lisa came out (as the) first (choice)," Goede said.

Finalists were interviewed by Goede and an independent panel of representatives from other police jurisdictions --- including Los Altos, Atherton and Pleasanton.

Douglas' duties will include records and communication management, and supervision of dispatchers, parking enforcement and volunteers. The middle-management position is not part of a bargaining unit. Douglas is entitled to the 3 percent at 60 retirement plan and other benefits based upon her tenure with the department.

The council also approved the second reading of an ordinance to put the PERS (Public Employees Retirement System) side fund refinance on the Feb. 4 ballot. An election is required per the city's charter. It would need a two-thirds voter majority to pass. The approximate $8 million refinance is estimated to save the city $95,000 to $125,000.

In other business, the council reviewed the announcement prepared by recruiter Peckham & McKenney to solicit candidates for the city administrator position. City Adminstrator Geoff Grote has announced his retirement effective February. The council wants to move the process along quickly, Vice Mayor Margaret Fujioka said. The deadline for applicants is Nov. 25.

Bobbi Peckham plans to provide a list of top candidates for review by the council on Dec. 16, she said.

Several residents spoke commending Grote for his professional and courteous service over the 25 years he has served. They pointed to the qualities needed in a new administrator.

"He or she should be a visionary and support sustainability," Alex DeGeorgio said.

The new hire should be familiar with labor negotiations, IT innovations, risk management, and municipal finance, Tim Rood said.

"The descriptions are of the person sitting right there now," former Mayor Valerie Matzger said. "But he is leaving. It won't be easy filling his position."

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