Redding Council OKs Controversial Raises; Denounces Intolerance; is Updated on the Sherri Papini Disappearance Case; and Continues a Hearing on Utility Rate Hikes

A divided Redding City Council voted Tuesday to grant hefty pay raises to two managers despite warnings from a pair of critics who said the city’s spending priorities have eroded the community’s trust.

On a 3-2 vote, with council members Gary Cadd and Brent Weaver dissenting, the council authorized a 9 percent raise, or $1,000 a month, for Kim Niemer, the director of community services, and a 4.8 percent raise, or $500 monthly, for Dennice Maxwell, the city’s finance director.

Niemer, who has 25 years of service with the city, will now be paid $141,468 a year; Maxwell’s new salary is $129,300 a year. The matter came before the council at Mayor Missy McArthur’s insistence; she reportedly said she wanted the two women’s compensation to be addressed before she vacates her council seat in December.

Mayor Missy McArthur, left, Vice Mayor Brent Weaver and Councilwoman Francie Sullivan.

Mayor Missy McArthur, left, Vice Mayor Brent Weaver and Councilwoman Francie Sullivan. Photos by Jon Lewis.

Councilman Gary Cadd, who lost his bid for re-election last week, opposed the raises and said the city should be tightening its belt—“and really cinch that baby down”—and begin preparing for a mountain of unfunded pension obligations. “We just can’t afford it,” Cadd said.

Vice-Mayor Brent Weaver said his opposition was not based on the two executives’ performance or character. Instead, he said, “any increase is competing with law enforcement.” He was referring to last week’s resounding defeat of Measure D, a proposed half-cent sales tax increase to fund more police and firefighter positions and increase Shasta County’s jail capacity.

“I was against this when I first heard of it before the election and now I’m even more against it,” Weaver said.

Speaking in opposition, Jason Fielding said Measure D failed because voters don’t trust the council to wisely spend taxpayers’ money. Plus, he added, “some employees are grossly overpaid.” Just as a family must live within its means, so must a local government, Fielding said. “If there’s no money for police and fire, then there’s no money for anything else as far as I’m concerned.”

Monica Frere noted that Redding’s salary for its parks and recreation director would be almost double that of the average in other cities. Plus, city managers received 2 percent raises in 2014 and 2015 and Niemer received a 5 percent raise in the spring after she absorbed the Support Services Department duties. “I’m not seeing the results commensurate with the compensation,” she said.

“You should be ashamed,” thundered Bob Reitenbach, a frequent critic of City Hall, who added that council members would be denied passage through “the pearly gates” based on their voting record.

Councilwoman Kristen Schreder cited the exemplary work put in by both Niemer and Maxwell, including award-winning financial statements, ambitious fundraising efforts to finance Enterprise Park renovations and cost-saving parks management. “You have to pay employees for the value they provide,” Schreder said.

Councilman Gary Cadd, left, and Councilwoman Kristen Schreder.

Councilman Gary Cadd, left, and Councilwoman Kristen Schreder.

Councilwoman Francie Sullivan noted that the city has lost five department heads during her tenure on the council and that their jobs have been divided among the remaining staff. “These are two women who go way beyond … this is not easy and it’s not popular but I’m going to support it,” Sullivan said.

McArthur said Niemer and Maxwell are essential to keeping Redding a smooth-running operation.

In other action Tuesday, the council:

Sherri Papini disappearance

–Heard an appeal from Keith Papini of Mountain Gate, whose wife, Sherri, disappeared Nov. 2 while jogging on Old Oregon Trail near the intersection of Sunrise Drive. The 34-year-old mother of two has not been heard from since.

Sherri Papini is described as a 5-foot-4 blonde woman with blue eyes who weighs 100 pounds. She was last seen wearing a pink running jacket. Her phone and ear buds were located near the intersection of Old Oregon and Sunrise.

Sheila Koester, left, and Keith Papini.

Sheila Koester, left, and Keith Papini.

Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office at (530) 245-6540.

“Sherri means the world to me,” Keith Papini said after expressing his appreciation for the community’s support. Sheila Koester, Sherri’s sister, thanked the Sheriff’s Office, Shasta Support Services, Nor Cal Alliance for the Missing and the Guardian Angels for their assistance. She asked the City
Council for help with organizing an event to help spread the word of her sister’s disappearance.

“We will make that happen for you,” McArthur said. “Our prayers are with you and good luck.”

A stand against intolerance

–McArthur ventured “off script” at the start of the meeting to ask each council member to reaffirm his or her acceptance of “all religions, all colors and all walks of life.” Her emotional appeal was prompted by recent news of a Shasta High School student who was punished for handing out bogus “deportation” letters to students of varying ethnicities.

“We do not tolerate intolerance,” the mayor said.

“Prejudice of any kind is not tolerated by your leaders,” Weaver added. “The mayor and I thought it was important enough to speak out.”

Councilwoman Schreder encouraged residents to read an open letter penned by Shasta High graduate Tracy Manuel. The letter can be found here: https://goo.gl/forms/d3TPPQ3HlCEHKaNd2

Utility rate hikes

–Continued a public hearing on proposed sewage, garbage and water utility rate hikes to a special meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 15. Three speakers addressed the council on Tuesday to oppose the increases.

As explained by Public Works Director Brian Crane, a typical household currently paying $103.43 a month for wastewater, solid waste and water utilities would see an $11.22 increase in December, followed by hikes of $4.49 in July of 2017 and $4.70 in July of 2018.

Ratepayers who opt to use smaller, 45-gallon garbage cans would pay $21.49 a month for garbage pickup, while those with 64-gallon carts would pay $22.46 and those using the current 96-gallon size carts would pay $24.04. The smaller carts are intended to encourage more recycling, Crane said.

The utility rate hikes are needed to adjust for inflation and cover the costs of an assortment of improvements and repairs to the city’s water treatment, wastewater treatment and solid waste collection equipment and facilities, Crane said.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.
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20 Responses

  1. cheyenne says:

    In the nobody wants to hear from Wyoming spot.  A report on MSN listed the top paid city police forces in the nation and Redding was listed at #11, surpassing cities like Chicago, Portland and even L.A.  But in their defense almost all the 10 higher paid cities were in California.  Mostly do to the higher cost of living.

    Here in Cheyenne the Microsoft Dats Center will be using 100% of wind power for their needs.  The excess backup wind power will be sold to Black Hills Power and this will allow lower electric fees for the other customers.  I don’t know how but that is what was said.  According to the article, in yesterday’s WTE, Microsoft is committed to getting 50% of their electric needs from renewables by 2018, they are at 44%.  Where is all that solar Redding keeps talking about?

    • cheyenne says:

      Correction.  Microsoft wants to get 50% of their electric needs from renewables nationwide.

      • Beverly Stafford says:

        A comment in an earlier piece certainly hit home with me:  why aren’t there solar arrays in every parking lot in Redding?

  2. A Brady says:

    You are right, Cheyenne. There is lots of solar in Shasta County and more all the time because of efforts by individual homeowners AND nobody wants to hear from WY.

  3. Virginia says:

    Redding City Council is beginning to sound more like the Bay Area.  We are not the Bay Area!  Heaven Forbid!

    • Virginia says:

      No one should accept intolerance of any kind.

      For me, though, the raising of salaries at this time when they already have high pay for the area is not acceptable.  That makes us sound like the Bay Area…………

      That is what I meant when I wrote above.  Sorry it came out skewered.

      Additional:  Higher sewer fees.  Fees should be tied into the water usage.  One person households pay the same a six households.  That is something that the Bay Area is good.  At least, one thing!  ;o)

    • Jim Briggs says:

      Heaven forbid we should be more like the Bay Area, one of the most powerful economies in the world!

  4. Rod says:

    “We do not tolerate intolerance.”

    Sorry, I accidently spit my swallow of coffee out when I read this.  Retirement is too long coming Missy.

    I remember reading somewhere that —intolerance is intolerable, but, are we oaring the boat the same direction?

     

    • K. Beck says:

      “We do not tolerate intolerance.”

      I had to laugh at that as well. Isn’t that BEING intolerant?

      • Rod says:

        Well, I think we could dance this regrettable statement around the mulberry bush.  It does sound like a normal politician speaking though.

         

      • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

        It means that we don’t condone intolerance, so the meaning is as intended. It’s probably difficult to spend years making statements in public forums without at least a few awkwardly worded utterances.

        I never put much stock in Bush II or Joe Biden’s verbal gaffes—they’re both reasonably intelligent people, if well short of genius-level. Sarah Palin and Dan Quayle’s inability to say much of anything other than garbled nonsense reveal deep intellectual deficits.

        Memorable Quayleisms:

        What a waste it is to lose one’s mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.

        I have made good judgements in the past. I have made good judgements in the future.

        Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.

        One word sums up probably the responsibility of any vice-president, and that one word is “to be prepared.”

        Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.

        We’re going to have the best-educated American people in the world.

        I stand by all the misstatements that I’ve made.

        • JeffG says:

          Steve, it is the difference between “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it” and “You can’t say that because it hurts my feelings.”

           

          The later leads to intellectual dishonesty and has crippled our ability to analyze and discuss inequality.

    • JeffG says:

      Glad to see I wasn’t the only one facepalming at the hypocrisy

  5. K. Beck says:

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record: Redding is in competition with every other PD in the state. Comparing Redding to other states is useless. I suspect officers in CA rarely move to other states because of the pay scale in other states. Moving to other cities in CA, on the other hand, could actually happen. Portland might be a good comparison, and Washington State. I don’t know how we compare with the cost of living in other municipalities, I suspect our cost of living is less, but that should be part of factoring in pay rates. Just listing a bunch of other cities is not useful. And where is the link to that article?

  6. cody says:

    Too bad they are losing Cadd, as he seems to be the only one that is concerned about spending, and unfunded pension liabilities.

  7. Barbara Stone says:

    I’m glad the City Council has taken a stand against intolerance. As leaders, they set the tone for the rest of the city so kudos for that.

    I protested the utility hike and I’m not happy about city employees getting huge raises. I have not gotten a raise in my income in years and my husband is just now getting COL again, after several years of not. But even that is only about 3% or so.

  8. Anonymous Heckler says:

    Niemer is great and has brought a lot to the city. (Don’t know the other woman.). She is worth every penny.

    Bringing the generous executive raises one week after the election that was supposedly about how dire the city’s needs are?  I reckon that will be remembered next time the city makes a run at a tax.

  9. NoBull says:

    The definition of inanity:  doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

  10. Buster says:

    considering the condition the city is in, these people should be embarrassed to take money for the job they’re doing.