Elena Reyes — the current Senior Deputy San Joaquin County Administrator in charge of economic promotion and development — is Manteca’s new city manager.
The Lathrop resident will start the $191,800 a year post on July 13.
“It’ll be great to work as a city manager in my hometown,” Reyes said following Tuesday’s closed door City Council meeting when she was hired to replace City Manager Karen McLaughlin who is retiring a week after Reyes’ first day on the job.
Reyes — whose journey from the hallways of East Union High where she graduated in 1974 to Manteca City Hall included extended stints in the private sector, a school district as well as the county where she was first hired in 2000 — will be the first graduate of local schools to run Manteca’s municipal government.
Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum called Reyes’ hiring a “win-win” for the city given her working experience with Senate Bill 5 and flood protection issues that need to be addressed to allow continued development in southwest Manteca, her economic promotion expertise and her experience with community development.
Reyes out of the gate will be able to mold almost half of the existing senior management team. Three positions that need to be filled due to retirements are the police chief, fire chief, and community development director.
Her biggest impact may be in community development. The city has been criticized for years by residents, the business community, and developers for what is perceived as a less-than-stellar performance in meeting community needs. While much of that may be based on perception, it never-the-less has been a priority to step up city efforts in that area not only by the existing council but at least three of the four announced candidates in the Nov. 8 election to fill two council seats.
Manteca is also in the middle of its last major redevelopment effort — development of the family entertainment zone on nearly 120 city owned aces between the 120 Bypass, Costco/Big League Dreams, the wastewater treatment plant, and McKinley Avenue.
Negotiations on a waterpark resort operator by McWhinney Development — the Colorado firm the city obtained to purse that project — is nearing the critical stage of the framework of a deal being worked out for 60 acres instead of the original 30 acres.
The environmental certification has already been approved for an indoor water park resort initially with a 500-room hotel as well as a conference center.
The job impact on Manteca would be significant. A 500-room resort would add 570 jobs — 414 permanent full-time jobs and 156 part-time jobs. It also would leverage other private sector investment in the balance of the family entertainment zone.
The public safety challenges are also daunting. Manteca is working its way through a federal lawsuit claiming they are violating the civil rights of the homeless. At the same time the council has authorized hiring two community service officers to devote fulltime to addressing homeless issues in Manteca.
For the fire department, the city needs to identify funding to build the fifth fire station at Woodward Avenue and Atherton Drive.
Reyes has been in her current position for five years. Prior to that, she was an analyst in the county administrator’s office.
She is a graduate of the University of the Pacific and receives her masters in public administration from the University of San Francisco.
The contract the council approved allows Reyes to start with 240 hours of accrued sick leave hours, and 160 hours of accrued vacation hours. In addition, on the day she starts she will — based on contract language — “start accruing sick leave and vacation leave on a monthly basis, at a minimum, at the highest rate provided or available to other employees, under the same rules and provisions applicable to the most senior Executive Management.”
That translates into accruing 15.3 hours of vacation each month. She will also be entitled to 120 hours of administrative leave for each year of the contract subject to established accrual and cash-put limitations. The contract includes health insurance for herself and eligible dependents, long- and short-term disability insurance, $500,000 life insurance policy, and a $500 a month automobile allowance.
She will pay 50 percent of the total cost of her retirement plan and an additional 11 percent toward the employer cost of retirement.
The contract allows for her termination without cause only by an affirmative four-fifths vote of the City Council. If she is terminated while still willing and able to perform the duties of city manager she will receive a lump sum payment equal to 12 months of her salary. The council cannot terminate the city manager during the 90-day period before or after a City Council election.