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Lathrop willing to pay up to $100K a year for someone to sell city

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POSTED September 22, 2009 4:20 a.m.

LATHROP – Lathrop is a city in need of a sales agent. Someone who will not only devote his full time to sell the city’s potential as a good location for business but, more importantly, to aggressively pursue that goal.

City leaders are so anxious to get this going that they are willing to cough up the dough to get the right person on board and have the program running, budget deficit notwithstanding. They are offering a salary range of $50,000 to $100,000 to the right person willing and able to do that job for a 12-month period. That was the salary-range figure that the council approved by majority vote at their last meeting after a lengthy discussion.

“I believe the city needs an effective economic development director actively ‘selling Lathrop’ to potential businesses, especially one who knows this area. I believe it is necessary to hire an aggressive, full-time salesman. In the past six months, I have personally wooed a business planning to move to a new location. I talked to the owner personally, to his construction people who visited our sites, and his corporate board. It has settled in Manteca,” said Council member Robert Oliver who was the only one who voted against the proposal that was approved.

Mayor Kristy Sayles, Vice Mayor Martha Salcedo and Council member Christoper Mateo – Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal was absent – all said yes to the hiring of a “temporary city worker” for the above salary range on a 12-month basis without benefits.

Oliver cast a dissenting vote only because he believed hiring a full-time economic development director with an annual salary of $163,000 with benefits – the second option presented by city staff to the council – was the way to go for Lathrop to get the best sales bang for its buck.

“I wouldn’t apply for a job like that,” he said, referring to the job conditions approved by the council’s majority vote.

“I believe Lathrop needs an aggressive economic development person who knows the area and has a Rolodex with names and numbers of such interested folk. Manteca has such a person. Stockton has such a person. Tracy has such a person. We must compete or we will die on the vine.”

The other council members though were optimistic that the city would be able to find a capable marketing person to do the job under those hiring perimeters, especially during these shaky economic times.

“There are a lot of people that are jobless right now,” said Mateo who did not think there will be a shortage of applicants for the sales job.

Added to the resolution approved by the council was the provision that the program’s effectiveness will be reviewed six months down the line, with the council subsequently making a follow up determination whether to continue funding the position at the set salary range.

Since the city has already allocated $50,000 in the approved 2009-10 budget for an economic development “consultant” position, an amendment to the budget would be needed for the additional $50,000.

Had the council approved the hiring of an economic development director at the proposed annual salary rate of $163,000 a year with benefits, that move would have meant laying off one city employee. The city, so far, has laid off 15 employees and instituted furloughs that translated to 10 percent salary deductions across the board for all city workers which meant closing City Hall on Fridays, to bridge the more than $2.5 million estimated deficit this fiscal year.

“We don’t want to lay off more people” to hire an economic development director, said Sayles.

“If somebody can live with those (hiring) terms, God bless them. I’ll take them in a heartbeat,” she said.

Longtime Lathrop resident Arnita Montiel was all for hiring an individual who will go to bat for the city.

“One time Lathrop was bigger than Manteca, but they got ahead of us,” she said.

She was all for hiring a consultant to the tune of $50,000 and “then get a permanent one the next year.”

After more than 40 years of going to Manteca for grocery shopping, banking and other business transactions, she would like to see the day when “you don’t have to go to Manteca, Stockton and Tracy” for those errands, she said.

To contact Rose Albano Risso, e-mail ralbanorisso@mantecabulletin.com or call (209) 249-3536.

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