PLEASANT HILL -- Taxpayers could be on the hook for thousands of dollars because City Clerk Kim Lehmkuhl didn't do her job.

A group of residents is trying to remove Lehmkuhl from office because she failed to produce City Council meeting minutes for an entire year. If that recall qualifies for the November ballot, the election would cost Pleasant Hill an estimated $23,712, according to the Contra Costa County Elections Division.

Even if recall organizers ultimately fall short of the 3,800 signatures they need to force a recall election, Pleasant Hill would have to pay the county an estimated $3,000 to verify the petition signatures.

And in a stroke of irony, the council agreed Monday to pay a former employee $80 per hour to manage the recall process, because Lehmkuhl -- who is the city's elections official -- can't oversee her own recall.

Linda Stehr, who administered Pleasant Hill elections until she retired two years ago, will act as the elections official for the recall if it takes place. Staffers estimate the job could take 100 to 125 hours at a minimum cost of $8,000.

Pleasant Hill resident William Nownes blasted this use of city resources and urged Lehmkuhl to step down.

"Nobody really wants a recall," Nownes said. "People just want the city clerk to resign so someone who's actually interested in doing the work the city clerk is supposed to do can do it."

Stehr's first task will be to review and approve the petition recall supporters filed Monday. Once Stehr certifies the petition, organizers will have 120 days to collect about 3,800 signatures to place the recall on the November ballot. There are 18,970 registered voters in Pleasant Hill, according to the elections division. This would be Pleasant Hill's first recall election.

Residents notified Lehmkuhl last month they plan to circulate a petition seeking her removal. The official notice alleges Lehmkuhl "violated her oath of office, and she accepted public funds for services she did not provide. To restore public trust, Ms. Lehmkuhl must be removed from office."

Lehmkuhl, who didn't file a response to the notice, characterized the recall effort as "theatrical" and said she believes organizers haven't considered the potential costs to the city.

"I just don't think it's really thought through," said Lehmkuhl, who earns $7,020 annually as the part-time city clerk.

Lehmkuhl has been working her way through the minutes backlog since January, but so far, the council has approved just eight sets of formal minutes. At her request, the city is paying a professional minute taker $17 per hour to summarize public comment. Lehmkuhl has until March 31 to complete minutes for the remaining 11 meetings.

Lisa P. White covers Concord and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.