During the closed session portion of the Rainbow Municipal Water District’s April 7 special board meeting, the board members approved a contract for new general manager Gene Buckley while also authorizing a search for his replacement in that position.
A 5-0 vote approved Buckley’s contract while a 4-1 vote, with Dennis Sanford in opposition, authorized Buckley to conduct a search for a new general manager through internal efforts rather than through a third-party recruiting service.
“I’m in there for now,” Buckley said. “It’s kind of an interim situation.”
Although the March 25 board meeting decision which hired Buckley made him the general manager rather than the interim general manager, Buckley feels that he should return to his position as assistant general manager and chief finance officer. “That’s where my talent and strength is, and I realize that and I enjoy that part,” he said.
Buckley, who joined Rainbow’s staff in February 2004, also has near-term retirement plans. “Even if I were not retiring, one person cannot do both jobs, cannot do them well,” he said.
Buckley had previously been Rainbow’s interim general manager prior to the hiring of Dave Seymour, who was Rainbow’s general manager from September 2007 until his retirement in April 2013. “I’ve done both of them one other time,” Buckley said. “You can do it for a short time, but ongoing it would wear somebody down.”
The North County Joint Powers Authority consisting of Rainbow and the Fallbrook Public Utility District was formed in February 2013, and FPUD general manager Brian Brady was named as the North County JPA executive officer. When Seymour retired, Brady was also named as Rainbow’s general manager. The reorganization associated with Brady’s hiring changed Buckley’s title from chief financial officer to assistant general manager, and under Rainbow policy Buckley was the district’s acting general manager in Brady’s absence.
On March 5 the Rainbow board voted to withdraw from the JPA. On March 10 the FPUD board addressed the JPA’s conflict of interest code which covers incompatible offices; Brady resigned as Rainbow’s general manager without a vote. Buckley became Rainbow’s acting general manager upon Brady’s resignation.
“I’m actually doing two jobs,” Buckley said. “It’s more than a plateful.”
The $190,000 annual salary stipulated in Buckley’s contract to be general manager and chief finance officer is an approximate 10 percent raise from his salary when he was assistant general manager and chief finance officer.
Board approval will be needed to hire Buckley’s replacement as general manager.