New report raises question into interim McFarland City Manager

Posted at 7:50 PM, Jul 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-18 23:12:51-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A recently released grand jury report out of Madera County shows that interim McFarland City Manager David Tooley gave himself a hefty pay raise along with other senior staff members over the course of three years.

The grand jury report didn't name David Tooley specifically, however, it points out multiple issues within the City of Madera questioning the ethics for senior officials and describing a lack of transparency.

All of this coming to the surface after many residents became upset over higher rates and bigger salaries for officials.

David Tooley was previously serving as the Madera City Manager but in May was appointed to interim McFarland city manager after the disappearance of John Wooner.

23ABC News learned many Madera residents were angry in 2017 when their water rates were raised and they learned the city was paying excessive salaries to senior staff.

The concern prompted a Madera County Grand Jury investigation into the city salaries and water rates.

The report shows in 2015 salaries of management staff were increased from 11 to 44 percent, and during that same time period water rates increased between 9 to 10 percent and their data also shows other senior city staff members received excessive pay raises.

Tooley made more than $260,000 in 2016 with benefits and that his total pay was more than $337,000 as the Madera City Manager.

The website claims it gets all information from public records requests. It also shows Hanford, which has a comparable population to Madera, the city manager made about $241,000.

The Fresno County Manager made about $30,000 less than Tooley, but Fresno has five times the population.

The report also found that the city did not have a written code of ethics for senior officials or a adequate follow up ethics training. It also shows there was a lack of transparency towards residents.

Tooley did not respond to our request for a comment, but McFarland Mayor Manuel Cantu who declined to go on camera said Tooley was highly recommended by the League of California Cities group of retired city managers.

Cantu said he also knew that Tooley eventually submitted a resignation to the Madera City Council and that he retired shortly after but he did not specify if was related to the grand jury investigation.

The City of Madera also issued the following statement to 23ABC News:

"The City takes the GJ report seriously – we are working through the findings and will address the concerns raised in the report, as required by law,"

The current Madera City Manager, Arnoldo Rodriguez said officials reduced the city manager base pay to $184,000 in November of 2018. However, the position is merit based and is eligible for an increase to a base salary of $193,000 after the first year and then to $203,000 after the next calendar year.

Rodriguez also said that benefits for other senior department head positions have also been reduced in March of 2019.

He said that Madera was not close to filing bankruptcy when he took over the position and they are continuing to make more improvements within the department to address the issues found in the report.

The city has less than 90 days to respond to the report.

23ABC News will bring you details as soon as they become available.