Eureka Finance Director Paul Rodrigues is resigning his post with the city, having accepted a position that will allow him to spend more time with his kids, something he feels is very necessary in the wake of his wife’s death.
Hired by the city in December 2010, Rodrigues said he’s loved working for Eureka, but that the demands of the job have become too much since his wife, Conna, died of a brain aneurysm in October at the age of 45. Since her death, Rodrigues said he’s been struggling to balance the demands of the job with his intense desire to spend as much time as possible with his four children, who range in age from 12 to 17.
“This is a really big job and there’s a level of stress associated with it but, more so, it’s just more than a 40-hour-a-week job and it’s just more time than I have to give,” he said. “There’s a great staff here that’s working a ton of hours, and it’s really not fair for them that their director is not doing it alongside them.”
Rodrigues has accepted a position with the Humboldt Community Services District, which he said he expects to be a bit lower-key than his position with Eureka. It’s a great opportunity, he said, adding that the last three people to have held the position for HCSD have retired with the organization. Rodrigues said he’ll be taking a pay cut with the change, but said it’s worth it.
“If that indicates anything, I hope it indicates a desire on my part to allocate the amount of time necessary to take care of my family since the loss of my wife,” he said. “My life just took a substantial turn when I lost Conna. Now, my kids need to take care of me and I need to take care of them.”
The city council is expected to grant an exception to the city’s hiring freeze to find a replacement for Rodrigues at tonight’s meeting. City Manager Greg Sparks said the plan is for the deputy finance director, Wendy Howard, to step in and serve in an acting capacity until the city hires a permanent replacement.
Eureka has seen a fair bit of turnover at the department head level in the past year, having bid farewell to Police Chief Murl Harpham, City Manager Bill Panos and Community Development Director Rob Wall in recent months. Now Rodrigues joins the list.
In the aftermath of passing a tight budget that saw 10-percent cuts across all departments, Eureka is asking voters in November to approve Measure Q and extend a temporary .5-percent transaction and use tax. In 2010, voters approved Measure O, which introduced the temporary tax increase and was due to sunset in 2016. Now, city officials are saying that losing the tax would potentially trigger crippling cuts to the city’s police and fire departments. As the debate surrounding Measure Q heats up in the coming months, it seems likely some focus will be put on how Measure O funds were spent and specifically whether the bulk of the additional revenue was channeled to public safety as officials promised while campaigning for the measure.
Sparks said not having Rodrigues in the fold for those conversations will pose a challenge.
“It is certainly, probably, a concern,” he said. “I really want to, over the next couple of weeks, spend more of my own time dealing with some of the Measure Q stuff as we prepare the information piece of that campaign so voters really understand how Measure O dollars were spent, where the money went and how measure Q will be used as well.”
Rodrigues said he’s leaving the city with a heavy heart. “The city of Eureka has been a great place to work,” he said. “They treated me like family when my wife passed.”