As he heads into his administration’s second term, Mayor Alan Webber is proposing re-instituting a chief of staff position at City Hall — a post that hasn’t been filled since September 2019 and would include duties a deputy city manager typically would be expected to perform.

The City Council on Wednesday will discuss a budget adjustment resolution that would allocate approximately $72,000 to bring back the chief of staff position, which was last held by outgoing City Manager Jarel LaPan Hill in September 2019. Beginning in July, the full salary for the job would be approximately $110,000, making it one of the highest-paying jobs in the city’s government.

LaPan Hill, who served as Webber’s chief of staff between March 2018 and September 2019, said the position, if approved by the City Council, would report to the city manager.

“It really is serving as the second to the city manager,” LaPan Hill said Friday. “It will be responsible for driving city priorities, strategy initiatives, communication with councilors, making sure the trains are moving.”

LaPan Hill said the chief of staff will be responsible in part for strengthening communication between the administration and City Council. Webber last week said he believed the position also can help alleviate the city manager’s workload. Late last month, the mayor appointed John Blair to succeed LaPan Hill, who is leaving the city early next year.

“I think [city manager] is bigger than one person,” Webber said last week. “There used to be a deputy [city manager], and I think the idea of adding an additional person so that there is coordination and collaboration — there is communication — will make a big improvement for the operation.”

LaPan Hill made $88,000 when she served as chief of staff. The position was never filled after she became city manager.

During a public meeting last week, City Councilor Jamie Cassutt voiced a need to shore up communication lines between the City Council, department heads and other city entities. She also questioned whether the chief of staff position would be better described as deputy city manager.

Webber said the job title was a “bit of misperception.”

“It’s not really a chief of staff,” he said. “There is a position in the city charter for a deputy city manager.”



LaPan Hill said there was discussion about changing the name of the position when it was decided to revive the job. But for now, the job title will remain chief of staff.

“That is where it stands,” she said at a public meeting last week.

According to LaPan Hill’s résumé, the chief of staff role included managing day-to-day operations of the Mayor’s Office, providing “strategic engagement” with the City Council and recruiting and hiring department directors.

City Councilor Renee Villarreal said she has been in favor of adding a deputy city manager but said the city’s organizational structure may need attention since the addition of a full-time mayor.

“I don’t think we really thought about how all these pieces fit together,” she said. “But this is not going to solve the problem. Overall, I think we do not have a very good structure that works the way we thought maybe it was supposed to.”

Renée Martinez last held the position of deputy city manager from 2016, the year it was created, to October 2018.

LaPan Hill said one of the primary reasons former City Manager Erik Litzenberg left the post in 2019 was the number of people who reported to him. She said a chief of staff would help alleviate that pressure.

The possible addition of a chief of staff is the latest potential City Hall shake-up over the past three months.

Santa Fe Police Chief Andrew Padilla officially retired last week, with Deputy Chief Paul Joye stepping in as his interim replacement. Fire department Chief Paul Babcock last week announced his plan to retire on Christmas Eve. Assistant Fire Chief Brian Moya is slated to become the city’s new Fire Chief on a permanent basis.

(19) comments

Rebecca Salazar

The city doesn’t need more governance, we need better governance, we already have more than enough governance. Making our legislature full-time would not improve our governance, all we’ll get is a bigger circus than we already have during the current 30 and 60 day sessions. I couldn’t imagine having to pay more than half of the current legislators a full time salary. IMO making our legislature would only create more do nothing politicos than we already have with the current structure. Let’s be real here, lobbyists are the ones that influence the majority of the bills that currently get submitted. Making our legislature full-time would only increase that influence.

Jeff Varela

“I think [city manager] is bigger than one person,” Webber said last week. “There used to be a deputy [city manager], and I think the idea of adding an additional person so that there is coordination and collaboration — there is communication — will make a big improvement for the operation.” This self-proclaimed CEO cannot look at an organization and consider an objective/realistic alternative. This is merely a ploy to re-create the COS position to provide a job for another political fraternity member. LePan is just affirming as a gratitude gesture to this phony Mayor for her tenure as "City Manager" and for the lofty payout. When is the Council going to start being responsible to the people that elected them and provide some responsible and prudent governance? Can't count on most of them to even try and do the right thing.

Christina Gill

Too much top loading, the mayor should be more actively involved in operations, that was the point of moving the position to "stong mayor". While I voted for Webber for a second term I was hopeufl he would be willing to examine his weaknesses but sadly we are not seeing that.

Joseph Tafoya

This was the plan from the beginning.

Mike Johnson

Just more corruption and cronyism, surely the council can see through this ruse. Any intelligent person can.

Jim Montevallo

Regardless of how you feel about the role.....and Santa Fe is absolutely larded with useless jobs, more than any comparable city of its size, the proven fact is webber is one of those weak managers that only hires people who won't confront him or overshadow him. Is an age old tactic of the insecure, of people who know they don't really have the talent. This is one of the very worst kind of manager, they never get anything done, everything is appearances and promises and blame, and such hires a big waste of money as they make the bad worse.

The best thing for our community is to limit this inexperienced, bad manager any way we can. Please.

Mike Johnson

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Miguel Perez

Rebecca, you are spot on! I support going back to a part-time mayor with a small token salary, a nix on chief of staff. Let’s use our tax dollars wisely and hire workers that provide necessary services.

Rebecca Salazar

Hey Lupe, here’s a better parlay, how about changing the mayor position back to a part-time mayor, then hiring a Deputy City Manager and filling 80% of the existing openings . If between a full-time mayor and a city manager, they can’t handle the current duties, they are in over their head. By the looks of our parks and the city’s general appearance, it looks that more than a few people who are in over their heads. When the city charter was changed to make the position of the mayor full time, the city manager position should have been eliminated. Now they want to add chief of staff/deputy city manager to increase communication between the administration and the council. What in the h3ll are the mayor and city manager doing? The administration is already too too heavy as it is! As far as Councilor Cassutt’s comment about the need for better communication between the administration is concerned, she should take that up with the Mayor and or with the City Manager, she spends more than ample her time at City Hall as it is. She probably spends more time there than current administration staff. This is a classic example of small city government gone wrong.

Stefanie Beninato

I agree with you, Rebecca and Lupe. Fill the lower worker bee positions before we start giving more cushy jobs to those who could help Webber in his next political movida. And if we want to change the strong mayor model (which I voted against) then there has to be a charter commission to do so--there might be a 10 year limitation on calling such a commission and then the voters decide on that recommendation. Too many people did not think this strong mayor model through before voting for it.

rodney carswell

[thumbup]

Lupe Molina

Eh, I actually think you get that totally wrong. This city, as it grows, needs more governance not less. Having a full time mayor is a good idea, we just need someone who is better at the job. The state legislature should be full time too, and we should raise our standards.

Mike Johnson

"...we just need someone who is better at the job... we should raise our standards." Indeed? And who just elected all these fools? Did you vote for any of them?

Lupe Molina

Sure did. We had two D candidates for mayor and one C candidate. Doesn't mean we cant do better.

Mike Johnson

We must use our high standards for elected people differently it seems Lupe. When I see politicians running that don't meet my standards, I don't vote. Or maybe we have different standards.......[beam]

Lupe Molina

And what does that do? Nothing. Good job

Mike Johnson

Well Lupe, if I don't vote for incompetents and corrupt politicians, at least what happens is not my fault. I can sleep better at night knowing I am not responsible for NM being last in everything. I hope you can by enabling and electing these kind of people.

Rebecca Salazar

We don’t need more governance, we need better governance. As far as making our state legislature full-time is concerned, we already have a majority of part-time do nothing legislators as it is, we would turn them into full-time do nothing legislators. Let’s be real here, lobbyists are the ones the influence the majority of the bills they currently get submitted. Making our legislature full-time would only increase that influence.

Lupe Molina

How about a parley? When he fills 80% of the existing vacancies, he can have a chief of staff. Currently, there just isn't enough staff to chief over!

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