Miranda Lutzow may no longer have a qualifier in front of her title as city manager.
The Manteca City Council on Tuesday just a little more than a month after issuing Lutzow a year-long contract to serve as interim city manager through Feb. 4, 2021 will consider hiring her as the city manager.
In doing so they may drop her salary by $6,696 to $233,500 a year as well as switching out the $500 a month car allowance in exchange for a city supplied vehicle that she will be allowed to drive to and from her Manteca residence that is currently in the Tesoro Apartments as well as while conducting city business.
Lutzow was named acting city manager on Sept. 27, 2019 after the council put then City Manager Tim Ogden on paid administrative leave. Then when the council and Ogden agreed to part ways on Dec. 31, 2019 she was elevated to interim city manager. A formal year-long contract reaffirming Lutzow’s status as interim city manager was approved five weeks later.
Unlike her predecessors, the proposed contract for Lutzow does not have a set date that it “lapses” such as three or four years from the date it is approved.
Instead her employment can be terminated by a two-thirds vote of the council — three of the five members — or by her resignation, her effective retirement date under CalPERS, or her death.
Councils for the last 30 years have never parted ways with a city manager simply because their contracts lapsed. They have either been terminated, took another job, or resigned to start retirement.
Lutzow would get
green light to hire
Given city managers are the ones that hire department heads, changing Lutzow’s job status to simply city manager makes it clear she will be building the senior management team to run the city. It would eliminate any hesitation someone may have or applying for department head positions given the “interim” moniker refers to someone who is not likely to be in charge permanently.
It also would send a clear message to existing staff that Lutzow is the council’s choice to run the city on an ongoing basis and not just for the next 11 months. The proposed contract spells out what a city manager’s duties are under state law for a general law city which is to hire, fire, and discipline employees either directly in the case of department heads or indirectly by the department heads she hires. The city council’s only direct hires are the city manager and city attorney.
As it stands now, Lutzow will be able to hire four existing department head positions — community development director, public works director, finance director, and human resource director. Depending upon whether she ends up terminating or keeping Police Chief Jodie Estarziau after she placed her on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation she may also end up hiring a fifth department head. Those hires are in addition to the heads of new departments she has recommended the council create such as a Department of Engineering and possible future positions such as her proposal to split the Parks and Recreation Department into two separate departments.
In all likelihood she was also name a new city clerk as well since Lisa Blackmon is serving as the acting deputy city manager and will probably be elevated to that positron permanently.
If that happens that means within the past year all but three top senior management positions in Manteca have departed in one way or another. The exceptions are Fire Chief Kyle Shipherd, Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Fant, and City Attorney John Brinton.
The council made it clear last month they will not replace Brinton until he retires from the contractual positron.
The reduction in Lutzow’s salary was on her recommendation given she is trying to bring continuity and relative proportion to how basic municipal salaries are calculated. Last week Lutzow noted that pay needs to be based on basic salaries and not overtime given the very nature of the work of public safety employees means they often secure significant overtime.
For firefighters that typically involves responding to wildfire emergencies where their additional pay is covered by the state which reimburses the city. It also includes minimum staffing overtime when illness, vacations, or absences based on work-related injuries require firefighters to work additional shifts including when firefighters are working wildfires for the state.
Police face mandatory overtime if they are called into court on their day off, if there is a major investigation such as a murder, or if a significant incident or arrest occurs at the end of their shift. The police also have minimum staffing requirements as well.
The City Council meets Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com