LATHROP – After a decade with the City of Lathrop, Cary Keaten is calling it quits.
The longtime administrator – who started as the director of public works and took over as city manager roughly three years ago – has announced that he’d be leaving his post to pursue other opportunities.
His last day will be on April 24.
After a brief break, Keaten will begin his new job as the general manager of the Solano Irrigation District in Vacaville, working with something that has always fascinated him – water.
But it will be a tough goodbye for the city manager who has made himself part of the community as an active volunteer and as a Rotarian.
“This was a tough decision for me that was full of mixed emotions,” Keaton said. “We managed to get a lot of things accomplished in the last few years and got this city back on its feet.
“And just recently we’ve been getting pummeled by good news. It’s hard to leave in the face of that, but for my family and I, it just seems like the time to move forward along that career path.”
Ever since taking over the ropes from previous City Manager Yvonne Quiring, Keaten has been tasked with weathering a turbulent political climate and the fallout from the collapse of a massive housing development.
And when the economy finally hit the city – plummeting property values and a reduction in sales tax revenue – Keaten and his staff had to come up with ways to cut costs without slashing jobs.
Just recently the mandatory weekly furlough days were dropped when it was realized that there was a turnaround in Lathrop’s finances, and with a general fund reserve cushion that provides an emergency account for city staffers and council alike, the steps taken by Keaten’s staff to maintain financial solvency proved to be successful.
City Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal, who has worked closely with Keaten to ensure that Lathrop is on the right track for the future, says that the city will be losing a valuable asset when he goes.
“We’re definitely going to miss him. He’s done some very good things for us as far as I’m concerned, and he has really helped the city move forward,” Dhaliwal said. “We thank him for his service to the City of Lathrop and wish him well in all of his future endeavors. He’s been a big part of this city and we won’t forget what he has done for it.”
According to Dhaliwal, the council has offered the interim city manager post to current Public Works Director Steve Salvatore. Part of his duties listed have included Assistant City Manager, and the process of agreeing on a contract will be the next step in the process.
It’ll be up to the council to determine whether they’ll search for a permanent replacement by advertising outside, or weigh internal candidates on a higher scale.
Even though he’s going to miss his previous position, Keaten says that he’s looking forward to working with something that has long fascinated him and serves as an integral part of California’s makeup.
“It’s something that’s closer to my core experience and it’s a unique opportunity to work in the water industry,” Keaten said. “Water is the lifeblood of California, and when the opportunity came along and it looked like it was something that would complement my background on top of something that I’m fascinated with, I had to go for it.
“Lathrop is a great community with a lot of dedicated people that I’ve really enjoyed working with. They’re trying to make a difference in the city and they work really hard at everything they do to make that happen. I’m going to miss them.”