By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Paul Cayler, the interim city manager in Cloverdale for the past five months, appears to have passed his audition.
Cayler is set to officially be named city manager Wednesday, with the City Council scheduled to approve a three-year employment contract.
He was among 38 “solid candidates” who were part of an initial screening of applicants for the permanent position, which was winnowed down to four,
then eventually two finalists, according to City Councilwoman Carol Russell.
“Paul has been outstanding,” Russell said Monday of Cayler’s performance since taking over in February. “From Day One, he treated his interim assignment as if it were his regular, permanent job. He rolled up his sleeves and went out into the community as well.”
Cayler, 48, was one of two finalists who went through interviews with two panels of business and community representatives, as well as the City Council.
According to his contract set for approval Wednesday, he will be paid $135,000 annually.
“It’s not a done deal yet,” Cayler said Monday of his clinching the top administrative job, which will be subject to a vote by the City Council Wednesday.
But both Russell and Mayor Joe Palla, part of the subcommittee that interview the job finalists, said Cayler has passed background and medical checks and is the right fit for Cloverdale.
Cayler’s salary will be less than the $160,000 his predecessor Nina Regor was earning when she left the city in 2012 after five years as city manager to take the job as the city administrator in Camas, Wash.
But it’s a raise compared to the $112,000 he was making when he left Willits in January, after more than four years as city manager.
Palla said Cayler’s background makes him qualified to grapple with the elimination of state redevelopment programs that the city relied upon, and he has experience in human resources, budgeting and public works.
“He has really been reaching out trying to get his arms around the issues and getting to know the community,” Palla said. “He’s been very instrumental working with the City Council and trying to work through the situation we’re in with our budget.”
Cloverdale has pressing issues that include a very low level of reserves — $84,000 — in its $5.7 million general fund budget, not enough to cover a projected deficit of $267,000 in the current fiscal year.
That’s despite cost-cutting measures over the past four years that include trimming about 25 percent of the city’s workforce.
Cayler already has been responsible for some money-saving initiatives, such as a joint powers agreement with Healdsburg to oversee recruitment of a new finance director and other human resource functions for Cloverdale.
The city is also trying to develop a more reliable water system. Cayler worked out a public-private sponsorship with Bear Republic Brewery to help pay for exploratory and test wells, Russell said.
Cayler is a 1989 graduate of Chico State University with a degree in public administration.
While in college he was an administrative intern in the Redding city manager’s office before going to work full-time for the city, doing landfill and groundwater monitoring.
He worked for 14 years for the County of Mendocino, first as solid waste manager, then deputy director of transportation and as chief executive officer, before taking the city manager job in Willits.
Cayler, who is married and has two sons – aged 20 and 17 — lives in Ukiah, but said he intends to move to Cloverdale next year, when his youngest son graduates from high school.
“I feel blessed being able to come to work here in Cloverdale,” he said Monday, adding that despite the challenges there are many upsides, including opportunity for economic development, which hinge on solving the water constraints.
You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 521-5214 or firstname.lastname@example.org