Two Groveland district directors resign over botched $25K GM recruitment;

Groveland Community Services District is down to three board members and will lose its general manager to retirement at the end of the year, in the midst of conducting a study that’s expected to increase sewer rates.

The district’s Board of Directors met Friday to discuss filling seats held by Maureen Griefer and Nick Stauffacher, who resigned over disputes about the hiring process for a general manager.

“This is certainly not a situation I’ve been through having two vacancies at one time,” said Board President Bob Swan, who was appointed to fill a vacancy in June 2013.

Griefer and Nick Stauffacher, who was appointed in May to replace former director Bruce Carter after he moved out of the area, submitted a joint resignation letter on Sept. 14.

The letter cited concerns over the district’s general manager hiring process, as well as a lack of public outreach about upcoming sewer rate increases.

Griefer, of Pine Mountain Lake, said in a telephone interview Friday that the district agreed to spend $25,000 to hire Tracy-based BHI Management Consulting for recruiting a replacement for GM Jon Sterling.

Sterling, who did not attend Friday’s meeting, was hired in August 2013 after serving as the district’s operations and maintenance manager from 2003 to 2007.

The board voted 3-2 in a closed session on Sept. 11 to rescind a contract offer for a GM candidate, with both Griefer and Stauffacher opposed. Griefer said the candidate was Adam Coyan, currently the general manager of the Pinecrest Permittees Association.

“He was absolutely a qualified candidate and had a lot of experience to offer,” Griefer said.

Griefer said the vote to rescind the offer was the last straw for her and Stauffacher, who could not be reached for comment Friday.

“For me, the fact that we went through the $25,000 in the hiring process seemed to be an effort in futility,” Griefer said. “That’s not a good way to spend our money, especially since we’re a public agency.”

Swan said he and directors John Armstrong and Scott Wemmer believed the candidate was not the right fit based on contract negotiations.

Swan said the board plans to hold a public information discussion about what happened at its next regular meeting on Oct. 9.

“We knew going in there was a chance we weren’t going to hire anybody, but I’m not happy about the fact that it didn’t produce a viable candidate,” Swan said.

The board decided to replace the directors through appointment.

Wemmer said the district typically receives multiple applications.

The board scheduled a public meeting for 6 p.m. Nov. 18 at Groveland Community Hall to interview candidates, as well as host a workshop about a sewer rate study conducted by Bartle Wells Associates.

Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.

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