Arroyo Grande to rehire interim city manager at lower cost

August 23, 2016
Arroyo Grande City Council

Arroyo Grande City Council

Arroyo Grande is again planning on rehiring Robert McFall to serve as interim city manager, and by chance, the city is expected to save some money. Earlier this month, the council approved an employment agreement with McFall, but complications stemming from McFall’s status as a CAlPERS retiree derailed the deal.

A new agreement between McFall and Arroyo Grande would cut out the middleman and save the city an estimated total of up to $51,000. Under the new agreement, McFall would lose a $1,700 monthly housing allowance, but would ensure that he keeps receiving his pension payments from CalPERS, the state retirement system.

McFall previously served as Arroyo Grande’s interim city manager from Jan. 2015 to Aug. 2015. City officials say he did a good job in the position.

On Aug. 9, the Arroyo Grande City Council voted unanimously to approve a contract with Regional Government Services (RGS), a governmental joint powers authority that assists other public agencies with short-term staffing needs. The agreement called for McFall to work for RGS as an independent contractor.

The initial agreement called for the city to pay RGS an hourly rate of $125, as well as the $1,700 monthly housing allowance. California Government Code allows CalPERS retirees to receive benefits, in addition to salary and pension payments, if they work during retirement as independent contractors. However, if CalPERS classifies the retiree as a retired annuitant, rather than an independent contractor, he is not allowed to receive benefits and must work for a limited duration.

As a result, McFall chose not to enter into the agreement, even though the city council had already approved the contract.

On Tuesday, the council will vote on the new contract, which calls for the city to pay McFall an $86.06 hourly rate. State regulations allow McFall to work a maximum of 960 hours under the agreement.

If McFall works 960 hours over eight months, the city anticipates paying him a total of approximately $82,618. The previous agreement was estimated to cost a total of approximately $133,600 over the same amount of time.

In 2010, McFall retired from the city of Glendale after spending 23 years as assistant city manager. Post-retirement, McFall did some consulting work for Arroyo Grande in which he conducted several departmental assessments.

The Arroyo Grande council hired McFall as interim city manager in 2015 after city manager Steve Adams resigned amid a sex scandal. The scandal stemmed from Arroyo Grande police finding Adams with a partially clothed community development director late at night in a city hall office.

An alleged coverup of the incident also led to the departure of longtime Mayor Tony Ferrara, who lost his reelection bid to a write-in campaign run by now Mayor Jim Hill.

The city has since been divided along the lines of those who support the police officers and Hill and those who back Ferrara and Councilwoman Kristen Barneich. Former Councilwoman Caren Ray, who is currently a council candidate, as well as others, are battling to bring back the old guard.

In Aug. 2015, the council hired Dianne Thompson as city manager. Amid complaints for the public and staff, the council voted unanimously in June to fire Thompson.

Since Thompson’s departure, Public Works Director Geoff English has served as interim city manager.

Arroyo Grande officials had initially planed for McFall to begin his second stint with the city on Aug. 10. City officials now plan for McFall to begin work on Wednesday.



  1. ajdury says:

    I don’t disagree with the two posters below me, in theory.

    In Mr. McFall’s case, he truly is coming aboard on a temporary basis – a position that no serious long-term city manager should/would want.

    Mr. McFall brought a much-needed (and short-term) skill-set the last time he was the interim and he proved to be an asset for our city in that capacity. Him stepping in again, while our city officials find a better fit to replace Mrs. Thompson is a win for AG right now.

    Remember, the ENTIRE city council voted to let Dianne go, which is note-worthy in and of itself. That same city council wants Bob McFall to steer the helm again, on a temporary basis.

    One thing I wonder about, when it comes to the city spending their money wisely is this:

    Council member Barneich (who is re-running) takes a substantial tax-free family insurance perk every year, while her SB County firefighter husband takes his as pay in lieu of coverage.

    So, the taxpayers of SB county pay for his unused perk and the taxpayers of AG pay for hers.

    I ask you, who’s gaming who when it comes to milking yet another broken government system?

    (8) 16 Total Votes - 12 up - 4 down
    • Josey Wales says:

      Ladies & Gentlemen,

      I agree with AJDury!

      Once again, we see politicians like Kristian Barniech game the system for themselves while leaving the genera public behind, and this conduct is par-for-the-course from the Tony Ferrara, Caren Ray, Adam Hill crowd. Sad.

      With regards to the pension problem, the proposal to hire interim City Manager McFall smacks of insider trading, and one wonders how this man can negotiate these deals ripping off taxpayers and yet, somehow, retain the credibility to manage the City of Arroyo Grande’s interest with what credibility remaining?

      The REAL PROBLEM starts with the belief that somehow these city managers deserve to make $200,000-300,000 per year-they don’t.

      Just saying,


      (6) 14 Total Votes - 10 up - 4 down
  2. mullyman says:

    Ricky2 is completely right that the upper end gets paid more and great retirement while the people who actually make everything work gets the shaft. You can actually make 90% of your salary in retirement which is a lot for a $160,000 a month job. If you make $3,500 – $4000 like most of the workers it doesn’t come close to what upper end gets. It’s great Arroyo Grande can save money on this guy but they should be paying about $80,000 max a year anyway. The outragous amount paid to the people in the past did not equal the leadership you received.

    (11) 11 Total Votes - 11 up - 0 down
    • kayaknut says:

      I wouldn’t call being able to retire at 100%+ of your salary, whatever it may have been, from a system that is broke and continues to steal from the taxpayers because it doesn’t take in as much as it pays, both at the $150,000+ level and at the $60,000. Fix that and maybe those of us paying may understand, until then, sorry.

      (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
  3. Ricky2 says:

    Good for AG finding a way to save money.

    McFall, on the other hand, is a case study of what’s wrong with our state pension system’s propping up the upper crust with big pensions while starving the many lower level workers. The typical CalPers pension is in the poverty-level range or just slightly above it. Those are the people who do the actual work that makes government function. But it’s entirely different at the top management end. McFall’s pension is $163,000, according to So then he goes out and “consults” for a whole lot more money — more than most people make while working full time. Hey, this is welfare for the rich. Is that right? Ken Hampian ($168,000 pension), SLO’s ex city manager, does the same thing. Pretty nice to be able to rake in the consulting “fees” and have a sweet pension to fall back onto. There’s a simple fair way to curb our public pension problems: be fair to the little guys, and cap the upper end (you pick the number — $100K or whatever) so nobody gets more than a fair share. Paying out megabuck pensions to people who also made enough while working to be able to do some saving for retirement is unfair. Just one more example of how “the system is rigged.”

    (25) 27 Total Votes - 26 up - 1 down

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