The Manteca City Council unanimously nixed a proposal to spend $10,000 to hire a facilitator to promote more effective communication and team work between them and City Manager Tim Ogden as well as department heads.
All five council members during a special meeting Tuesday expressed surprise that the endeavor would cost $10,000. A week earlier they authorized staff under a consent item to procure a proposal for a neutral facilitator to work with the council and staff, the background material attached to the agenda estimated the cost would be less than $10,000.
Councilman Jose Nuno said he didn’t think “it would be just $50 less.”
The facilitator under the proposal would have sat down with each council member individually as well as the city manager and then use what information they gleaned to conduct a daylong retreat aimed at building teamwork.
Brenda Franklin was among citizens that spoke under public comments against the idea. She noted that all five council members were adults and that they got elected by effectively “talking to hundreds if not thousands” of people so therefore they should already know how to communicate effectively.
Mayor Ben Cantu, in stating he believed the proposal was made in response to what he expressed as his perception staff was not effectively carrying out council directives, offered an apology.
Cantu called the proposal “a waste of tax dollars” and added that “we are all mature” referring to the council and senior staff.
He equated the problem as one of the staff simply not following directives.
“My personal opinion is staff needs to get on board,” Cantu added.
Councilman Dave Breitenbucher stressed “we should all be able to get along.”
He noted if issues can’t be worked out that the University of Pacific in Stockton offers such facilitators without having to pay $10,000.
Councilwoman Debby Moorhead noted that in the past councils have conducted in-house team building and council priority sessions. The last one was held at the golf clubhouse under former City Manager Karen McLaughlin.
“This made us look bad and disorganized,” Councilman Gary Singh said of the $10,000 proposal.
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