Dave Marques is set to become Manteca’s permanent fire chief if the City Council tonight approves a contract City Manager Toby Wells has proposed.
Under the contract Marques would start in the position Nov. 16 with an annual salary of $205,560.
Marques has served as interim fire chief since January when then fire chief Kyle Shipherd resigned his post.
Shipherd filed a lawsuit against the city after resigning regarding a hostile work environment. That lawsuit was settled in September for $499,000 by the Manteca City Council.
The city conducted a recruitment process that attracted 14 applicants. They came from within the department, from other states, and from nearby agencies. The recruitment process included a technical panel, a community panel, and meetings with firefighters Local 1874 and an interview with the city manager.
In a memo to the council, Wells said Marques “possesses the perfect balance of skill, knowledge, and experience the City of Manteca’s Fore Department needs at this time.”
Marques started his career with the Manteca Fire Department in 1996 as a firefighter. He served as an engineer and then captain before becoming a battalion chief in 2011. He also has served as the city’s emergency operations director throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike six-figure settlements with previous senior management team members terminated or who resigned under alleged duress during the 17 months Miranda Lutzow was either permanent or interim city manager, every penny of the $499,000 settlement is on the back of Manteca taxpayers.
That’s because when Lutzow took various personnel actions against Shipherd it was done without consulting legal counsel — either the city’s own attorney or lawyers with the pool agency that provides municipal liability insurance.
The city in September issued a statement indicating they have “taken steps to insure it will not take place again” in reference to any future city manager acting unilaterally to terminate an employee.
The money to pay Shipherd was taken from general fund reserves at a time the council is under increasing pressure to deliver on a number of expensive projects ranging from street upgrades to effective homeless solutions that are competing for limited funding.
On Lutzow’s watch settlements with departing senior management team members and the legal cost involved have soared way past $1 million. The previous payoffs, unlike the one in on involving Shipherd, have been a mixture of city and insurance funds.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com