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Manteca once again hiring firm to conduct search for city manager
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The last time Manteca retained an outside firm to fill the city manager’s post it didn’t go so well.

It was 2016. And the candidate the council ultimately hired based on that research — Elena Reyes — ended up actually working just 19 weeks before elected leaders sidelined her. Reyes and the council parted ways after 38 weeks including 19 weeks when she was paid for not working with her leaving with a check in excess of $245,000 to buy out her contract.

Tim Ogden was then hired in August 2017 from the short list of candidates the consultant culled down from applicants they received.  Ogden ran the city for 2½ years during which time he nailed down the deal that landed Great Wolf, had two consecutive balanced budgets, and worked out a property tax sharing deal on an annexation that was more favorable to the city than previous annexations among other things.

But a change in city leadership that started with Ben Cantu being elected mayor set in motion not just getting rid of Ogden who now holds a similar position in Brentwood but every other department head.  Ogden also had his contract bought out.

The city currently is being led by an interim city manager in the form of retired Modesto Police Chief Michael Harden with a senior management team lacking anyone who has been in their current position or, in some cases, even in the city for a year.

The council less than a year into Cantu’s term instead of asking then human resources director Miranda Lutzow to secure proposals for a consultant to conduct an outside recruitment instead appointed her to the city manager post.

Lutzow abruptly resigned in February after most of the senior management team was replaced and new departments created and positions filled. While Lutzow did not get a severance package as she left on her own accord, she has since filed a claim against the city. The council rejected the claim which has to be filed as the legal precursor if someone wants to sue a city in California.

Tonight when the council meets at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St., they will consider hiring Tripepi Smith & Associates to conduct the recruitment for a city manager and a finance director.

The firm has already successfully placed four of the current department heads for the City of Manteca.

Both searches will cost about $33,000 with the contract drawn with a stipulation the amount doesn’t exceed $40,000.

The search for the city manager is expected to take 16 to 18 weeks, while the hunt for a director of finance 12 to 14 weeks.

It is not clear whether the city manager will be hired first and then that person hire the finance director.

In the past city leaders have deferred permanent hires for department heads until they had a city manager that is not acting or interim and will fill their position on a permanent basis — however long that may be.

City managers, given they run the city day-to-day, hire their management team. The city council directly hires the city manager and city attorney given those are the only two positions that report directly to them.

It is why the search for a permanent police chief was suspended. The city also is in need of a permanent fire chief.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email