By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Manteca council eyes assistant city manager
Placeholder Image

Manteca may fill the vacant assistant city manager’s job

City Manager Karen McLaughlin is against the idea.  But at Monday’s budget workshop the City Council unanimously directed staff to develop cost figures so they could look at the feasibility of adding the position to the 2013-14 fiscal year budget that started July 1.

The need for an assistant city manager was brought up by Councilman John Harris who called having a second in command who works directly on big deals impacting the city as “having an insurance policy.”

“We’re on the brink of significant development,” Harris said as he cited CenterPoint Business Park, Great Wolf Lodge Resort, the 1,050-acre Austin Road Business Park, the 1,600-homeTrails at Manteca and future Pulte projects.

Harirs noted Manteca could not afford to miss a beat should McLaughlin become ill or is inundated with too many tasks.

Mayor Willie Weatherford — along with Harris — praised McLaughlin’s work ethic and effectiveness but had concerns that she was taking on too much of a load and was going way beyond the call of duty in sacrificing personal time for the city.

The mayor noted that McLaughlin has never complained and had argued against filling the assistant city manager’s job at this time. He noted at one point she was doing three jobs — that of city manager, assistant city manager, and parks and recreation director.

The assistant city manager besides helping the city manager oversee city operations in the past has been assigned specific tasks such as negotiating development agreements for projects. Such activity dropped off during the recession but has picked up significantly.

McLaughlin took over as city manager two years ago when Steve Pinkterton took the top municipal post in Davis. She served as assistant city manager for nine years prior to being elevated to city manager.

McLaughlin has made it clear over the past several years that everyone on city staff would share in the “pain” of helping upright the city financially including management. It is why she never hesitated to take on the additional workload. And like all other municipal employees, McLaughlin’s compensation was cut by more than 20 percent.

Her budget message for the 2013-14 fiscal year states that “it is important during these initial times of recovery to remain cognizant that the government sector lags behind gains made in the private sector.” And due to that she implored elected leaders to continue to cautiously approach the spending of money.

Council members, though, believe there is too much at stake in terms of local jobs as well as sales, property, and hotel room taxes to help bolster public safety and other city services to not have additional help — and back-up — in the top tier of municipal administration.

Compensation including all benefits and payroll taxes the last time the city had an assistant city manager came to under $200,000.

The city’s current spending plan for 2013-14 has a $136,320 shortfall between current year expenses and current year reserves. The budget calls for dipping into reserves to cover the gap.