By the time new Grass Valley City Administrator Dan Holler comes on board in late March, the city will have paid nearly $188,000 in one-time costs, plus higher yearly salary costs nearing $23,000, to bring him onboard.
Holler will be earning more in his new position, even though Grass Valley, located north of Interstate 80 on the Sierra's western slope, has a far smaller budget and far fewer employees than Douglas County, where Holler has been county administrator for 12 years.
City leaders said the costs have been necessary to hire a capable person to lead the city, and officially approved their contract with Holler on Friday.
As Douglas County's top public official, Holler has dealt with budgets far larger and seemingly more complex than what Grass Valley faces.
Douglas County has a budget of nearly $157 million and employs 680 people, according to county Controller Claudette Springmeyer. That budget includes management of three unincorporated cities - Minden, Gardnerville and Genoa -two special districts and a redevelopment agency, she said.
The county's population is about 51,700, compared to Grass Valley's 12,400.
Grass Valley approved a $12.2-million budget in June 2007, and the city employs the full-time equivalent of 122 people.
Grass Valley's next budget will include Holler's yearly salary of $138,375. The city's pay is a slight increase from Holler's salary of $135,700 with Douglas County, and an increase of $23,000 over what the city paid former Administrator Gene Haroldsen.
"Of course, we would have liked to have hired someone for less," said Mayor Mark Johnson. "But what the market pays for an administrator with at least seven years of experience and the skill set we were looking for requires we pay more."
Cities such as Auburn and Yuba City are paying their top leaders comparable salaries, Johnson said.
Haroldsen, who had served as Grass Valley's leader for 15 years, made $115,800 at the time of his firing in February 2007.
His dismissal and the subsequent search for a new leader also cost the city.
The city paid Haroldsen nearly $165,000 in severance and accumulated vacation and sick pay, said Finance Director Carol Fish. It will pay Rocklin-based search firm Ralph Andersen & Associates $22,500 for the completed search.
In addition, the city will have paid interim Administrator Jeff Foltz nearly $105,000 for his services in 2007 and more than $31,000 this year by the time he completes his work in early March, Fish said. Foltz is earning $85 per hour; annualized, that would come to nearly $177,000 yearly.