Lisa Blackmon is resigning as Manteca’s deputy city manager as of June 5.
Her departure will mean every person that was in a senior level municipal management position for the City of Manteca five years ago will be gone.
Blackmon indicated Thursday that she will be moving out of state.
The City Council is meeting in a special closed door session tonight at 8 o’clock regarding an appointment to the city manager’s position.
Blackmon had been serving as acting city manager since Feb. 26. She was appointed as acting city manager after the departure of city manager Miranda Lutzow.
Lutzow had served as acting, interim, or the “permanent” city manager for 17½ months after previous city manager Tim Ogden was placed on administrative leave in mid-September 2019. Ogden subsequently reached an agreement with the city to end his contract and is now serving as Brentwood’s city manager.
Five persons in city
manager’s post since 2016
Since Karen McLaughlin retired in 2016 Manteca will have gone through five people in the city manager’s charge either as interim or under a multiple year contract when Blackmon departs in June.
That includes Elena Reyes who ended her 38-week stint as city manager walking away with at least an additional $145,000 when she parted ways as well as Greg Showerman who was in the interim role before Ogden arrived.
There has never been a time with so much turnover in the city manager’s office in Manteca’s 103-year history. Nor has there been such a “green” — in terms of time in Manteca doing a department level job — management team since the city got large enough to have departments.
Most of the “permanent” department heads in place have had similar experience elsewhere or have a number of years working in the departments they now head.
That assertion, however, needs an asterisk after it. That because Ken Fant before the current reorganization at city hall started more than two years ago was the head of the Parks & Recreation Department. At one point the council approved plans to split park maintenance and development away from recreation and formed a Recreation and Community Services Division.
Due to budget concerns triggered by the pandemic, there was never a “head” appointed to run the Recreation and Community Services. Fant, meanwhile, continues to oversee park maintenance and construction as part of the public works department with no reduction in the compensation he received as a department head. His title is parks director. The position of recreation and community services director is vacant.
Blackmon’s departure means there will be five senior management positions to be filled. And if the council continues a previous decision not to fill four of those posts other with an interim or acting person until such time a city manager is hired, there will be holes in the top management team until likely the end of 2021 if not beyond.
Assuming the council sometime soon starts a search for a “permanent” city manager, the typical time table such a search entails means sometime in August would be the earliest someone would be on board.
The city manager, which is the only municipal employee besides the city attorney directly hired by the city council, would then need to hire a police chief, fire chief, finance director, and deputy city manager.
Manteca may end up going
20 plus months without
permanent police chief
That means Manteca will have gone at least 20 months when all is said and done without a permanent police chief or finance director.
Blackmon, whose actual last day on the job will be May 27, will have been with the City of Manteca almost exactly five years when she was hired as the city clerk. She came to Manteca after working in the No. 2 positon in the city clerk’s office in Napa.
In early 2020 Blackmon was elevated to assistant city manager by Lutzow.
Toni Lundgren in July 2020 was appointed deputy city manager. She had served for years as the deputy director in Parks & Recreation and has worked for the city since 2007.
Prior to being appointed deputy city manager she was the acting finance director.
Some of the department head positions have turned over twice in the past two years. One department head hired to run the finance department left after several months while the person hired as city clerk was let go.
The agenda for tonight’s special meeting doesn’t specifically zero in on what the council may be discussing or if any specific action will be taken.
Their game plan since Lutzow’s departure was to have an acting city manager in place while they looked for an interim city manager to work while they did a search for a permanent hire.
Typically interim city managers either are retired city managers from other jurisdictions or a department head that the council may determine is capable of handling the job in the interim.
Manteca has a number of major initiatives the council needs to keep moving forward that underscore the need to institute stability in the city manager’s office.
They range from getting increased water, sewer, and solid waste rates in place to counter a projected $20.5 million deficits in these enterprise funds by the time June 30 rolls around as well as to have adequate funding going forward.
The city is still trying to straighten out a bookkeeping mess in the finance department and trying to move along long-promised road projects such as the North Main Street widening to four lanes as well as street work in Springtime Estates and Mayors Park underway.
They also have a major homeless initiative they are trying to move forward.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com