By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lathrop lays off parks project manager; OKs full-time status for part-timers
Placeholder Image
LATHROP – The city’s parks project manager is gone. The equivalent savings for the city in the continuing budget bloodletting: $133,227.

The assistant community development director is being demoted to principal planner. Savings realized for the current budget deficit: $23,191.

But not everything in the Lathrop budget crisis is bad news. There’s also good news – at least to the two employees concerned - as illustrated by the majority-vote action taken by the Lathrop City Council Monday night in the following budget increases that they approved:
•a budget increase of $20,000 to make the part-time (80 percent funded) management analyst II position in the city manager’s office to full-time;
•increasing the budget cost to the facility supervisor position by $24,939 – from a 48 percent to a 100 percent full-time position funding.

Even by stepping back $44,939 in the effort to realize the $1 million annual cost savings objective of the city, laying off the parks project manager and moving the assistant community development director to the lower-salary position of senior planner will still mean an additional $111,479 savings a year under the city’s five-year survival plan.

City Manager Cary Keaten explained that the work load of the unfunded positions above “can be accomplished” by others on the city staff.

As for turning the part-time position of management analyst II in the city manager’s office to full time, Keaten explained that step was necessary “so we can cope with the work load better.”

Council members Sonny Dhaliwal, Christopher Mateo and Robert Oliver voted to approve the above staff changes as recommended by the city manager and his budget team.

“What can we do?” asked Dhaliwal, while repeating what he has said in previous layoffs approved by the council.

“We need to put the city first,” he said.

Besides, he added that the council “did not offer the same consideration to the people who were let go” in previous cost-saving layoffs.

Keaten said the $111,479 cost savings realized by the Phase 3 action in the city’s continuing “sustainable budgeting” efforts, while the city is not “not saving a whole lot” as pointed out by Oliver, is significant because “it gets us closer to the $1 million mark” in the budget deficit that they still need to pare down so that the city is “completely sustainable for the next five years.”

“In that case, I go by your direction,” commented Councilman Mateo to Keaten’s above explanation.

Oliver, in his last meeting as Lathrop councilman before his official retirement at the end of the week,  said that he is “not interested in laying off people” but that the last thing he wants to see is the “city in financial difficulty.”

Referring to parks project manager Nathan Houx who is the latest to receive the pink slip from the city, and to assistant community development director Charlie Mullens whose position is being downgraded to principal planner, Oliver said, “They are great people, they’ve done a great job, but our job (as council members) is to save the city.”

Vice Mayor Martha Salcedo wanted the council to postpone its decision on the Phase 3 cost-cutting actions and “give more time to save any position?”

“I concur,” Mayor Kristy Sayles said to Salcedo’s suggestion. At one point, the mayor asked, referring to the positions that are being affected in Phase 3, “Have we taken a cold hard look at what we’re trading off here?”

However, her request and Salcedo’s suggestion that the city postpone the Phase 3 actions for at least a month or until the union representatives of the city’s mid-management employees have had talks with the city, were defeated by the council’s majority vote. Their suggestions were in response to a presentation given by Houx in which he pointed to the city officials that removing his position may cost the city more in the long run. He said the city may have to spend more in hiring consultants than simply retaining that position on the roster.

The city manager explained that the budget cuts are necessary because the city’s sales tax and property taxes went significantly down. Property taxes were hardest hit in Lathrop because home values went down at least one-third from their values three years ago which resulted in lower property taxes.

“That’s a significant loss in revenues,” he said, especially since no development fees are coming in due to the lack of construction activity in the city.

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