City Manager Tim Ogden — who was placed on administrative leave on Wednesday — got support from former council member Mike Morowit during public comments at the special council meeting.
It was in stark contrast to public comments at a special meeting the day before where three downtown merchants demanded Ogden be fired over the city’s handling of homeless issues in the central district prior to the council going behind closed doors for nearly six hours to discuss the city manager’s job performance.
Moworit was on the council that hired and fired Ogden’s predecessor Elena Reyes in the span of less than eight months and then signed Ogden to a contract for 3½ years from Aug. 7, 2017 through Feb. 28, 2021. Morowit was defeated in his bid for re-election in November.
Morowit provided a laundry list of Ogden’s accomplishment that speaking as a citizen he implored the council not to ignore:
uOgden handled the 10 months of intense negotiations that often required 3 a.m. phone calls with Great Wolf principals that finally nailed down a 500-room hotel and indoor water park project that reflects the largest single private investment in Manteca of $180 million after spending a decade chasing such a project. After its first full year of operation, Manteca will see an estimated $2 million plus flow into the general fund from room taxes the anticipated 500,000 guests will pay annually after the resort opens in mid-2020. Great Wolf will provide 500 jobs — including 250 fulltime positions — that will instantly make it the community’s largest private sector employer behind Doctors Hospital of Manteca.
uOgden was the first city manager to get the county to budge on tax splits that are more favorable to the city when land is annexed and developed. Prior to Ogden’s successful negotiations, new annexations only gave the city 20 percent of every dollar in taxes collected for local services while the county kept 80 percent meaning existing residents were helping underwrite costs to serve new residents. He was able to double Manteca’s share or property taxes to make the county-city split of the 1,301 home Griffin Park development going forward west of South Main Street between Woodward Avenue and Sedan Avenue a 60-40 proposition.
uHis efforts to make a tax sharing deal with other agencies work within a short time frame of three weeks to make it possible for Assemblyman Health Flora to be able to help the City Council secure legislative approval that will allow the property at 555 Industrial Park Drive to be used as a homeless resource center in a bid to help get homeless off the streets and receive training that allows them to get job and more effectively manage their lives to stay off the street instead of the former Qualex being auctioned off and proceeds split between 10 taxing agencies.
uThe city manager has delivered a balanced budget and has consistently advised council of the need to not undermine the reserve policies that they and previous councils have endorsed to keep the City of Manteca on sure financial footing.
Morowit said he understands the pressures and concerns the council is dealing with.
“He’s not just an employee,” Morowit said of Ogden. “He’s also a citizen of our city.”
On Tuesday, Brenda Franklin was one of the three speakers calling for Ogden’s termination.
Franklin said Ogden has been dismissive of downtown concerns especially regarding homeless issues that she and fellow merchants emphasize are keeping people away and leading to health and safety issues.
This December, due to concerns voiced by the public over downtown homeless issues, the Christmas in the Park event held the Friday and Saturday the first weekend in December is being shifted to Woodward Park.
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