Council names Stratford mayor for 2014

By Tamara Steiner on December 16, 2013

Council_forwebsiteThe Clayton City Council’s annual reorganization at the Dec. 3 meeting handed the 2014 mayor’s gavel to Hank Stratford and put David “Shoe” Shuey in the vice-mayor’s seat.

Stratford was first elected to the council in 2006 and served as mayor in 2010. He was instrumental in bringing the Do the Right Thing character building program to the schools in 2010 and wants to see the program extend into the broader community in 2014.

Stratford’s 2014 focus will include working to ensure a seamless transition at City Hall as the city heads into the year with two new key staff members. Kevin Mizuno replaces retiring finance director Merry Pelletier. City Clerk Laci Jackson Kolc resigned in December and Janet Brown will serve as interim city clerk as the city searches for a replacement.

Keeping the city on sound financial ground and facilitating economic growth will continue to be high priorities for Stratford and the council.

Stratford, 48, is a Clayton Valley High alum and a graduate of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. He holds an MBA from U.C. Berkeley and is a Certified Public Account.

The newly organized council’s first order of business was deciding what to do with $181,671 in “found” money. The excess funds were discovered by the city’s auditors when they closed the books on the 2012 fiscal year. All five council members were in agreement with City Manager Gary Napper’s request to add $54,154 to the city’s Self-Insurance Fund, which is used to cover miscellaneous legal expenses and uninsured claims, and another $25,000 to beef up the Capital Equipment Replacement Fund.

The council was not, however, so quick to accept his recommendation to set aside $103,517 in a special “Labor Relations Contingency Fund,” pending the outcome of the city’s two labor contracts currently in active negotiation. Both the Miscellaneous Employees Group and the Clayton Police Officers Association (COPA) contracts expired June 30. Members of both bargaining units have made major concessions to avoid cutting city services during the Recession, including taking 11 unpaid furlough days. Napper expects most of these days to be reinstated in the new contracts.

Several council members questioned the wisdom of earmarking the funds before negotiations were complete.

“Is this (amount) a starting point?” asked Stratford. “Or does it say ‘this is what we have – it’s all you’re going to get.’”

“I have a problem showing our hand this early,” Shuey agreed. “This is the downside of public transparency. I don’t want us to be bound to this amount.”

Council member Julie Pierce was not as worried about the city showing its cards. “The damage is done,” she said. “These numbers are already out there — they go through city hall faster than Gary can get them to us. That’s the nature of a small town.”

The council finally voted 4-1 to accept Napper’s recommendation. Howard Geller cast the single “no” vote.

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