By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Manteca council terminates 2nd city manager in past 37 months

Tim Ogden — credited with sealing the $180 million deal that almost got away to end up bringing Great Wolf Resort to Manteca — is being dismissed as city manager.

The City Council on a 5-0 vote Tuesday night terminated Ogden effectively Dec. 31. His replacement — at least for the time being — is Miranda Ludlow. She is being elevated from acting city manager to interim city manager. That decision was also made on a 5-0 vote.

Ogden will receive three months of severance pay in addition to three months of health insurance coverage. Ogden has been on paid administrative leave since late September.

That leaves only one department head’s fate yet to be decided. Police Chief Jodie Estarziau has been on paid administrative leave since last month when the human resources department received an anonymous five-page letter outlining concerns about how she dealt with rank and file police officers.

Ogden’s departure marks the fifth of the nine top administrative positions in the city to be vacated by dismissal, resignations, or securing another job while on paid administrative leave within the past 12 months.

It started with the dismissal of human resources director Joe Krisovich who was placed on paid administrative leave, dismissed and replaced by Ludlow. Community Development Director Greg Showerman resigned to take a position with the City of Modesto. Public Works Director Mark Houghton was terminated. Finance Director Jeri Tejada was placed on administrative leave but before whatever issue prompted that decision was vetted she was snapped up by another employer.

The loss of more than half of the city’s top management team is unprecedented as is the fact a third of the key administrators being terminated within a year’s time.

While city brass have noted competent mid-level management has stepped up to fill in for the departed department heads as well as Estarziau who is on paid administrative leave, no permanent replacements have been hired.

Ogden’s departure marks the second time in 37 months — and third time in 23 years — that a council has terminated a city manager. The elected council only hires the city manager and city attorney as they are the only two municipal employees that report directly to the council. All other department heads are hired by the city manager who is entrusted to oversee the day-today operations of the city.

The last city manager terminated was Elena Reyes who was dismissed after less than six months on the job. Her severance package plus what she received while on paid administrative leave when she did not work for the city was pegged at $240,000. Ogden — between the time he is officially on paid administrative leave and his severance package — will end up receiving around $100,000.

City managers in California typically last three to five years with a city.

 Ogden biggest achievement during his tenure arguably was the successful handling of 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.

It reflects the largest single private investment in Manteca of $180 million after the city 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.

The city was on the verge of losing the deal when the council finally decided to dismiss a firm — essentially a consultant — they had hired to work at securing the indoor water park resort and had Ogden handle the negotiations directly.

Ogden was also 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 have 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.