Search for city manager on hold until after election

By Thaddeus Miller / tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comNovember 3, 2012 

The search for a new city manager remains on pause until after Tuesday's election and the swearing in of at least one new Los Banos City Council member.

Steve Rath retired Wednesday and Police Chief Gary Brizzee officially took the interim seat Thursday. There is no word on whether the contract with recruiting firm Teri Black & Co. will be altered.

"The agreement is effective upon signature of professional services agreement by both parties and shall continue until all services are completed," the contract signed in April states. "This project is expected to conclude before Sept. 30, 2012."

Councilman Scott Silveira said he expects negotiations to resume after the election is certified by the Merced County Registrar of Voters.

"It doesn't do you any good to rush into a decision when the council's going to change," Silveira said.

The registrar typically certifies elections two to four weeks after Election Day. At least one new person will be sitting at the dais after voting ends, and as many as three spots could have new faces.

The contract states any amendments must be "by a written document executed by both consultant and city and approved as to form by the city attorney."

City Council hired Teri Black-Brann as a recruiter in April and agreed to pay no more than $26,000. Under the contract, she's paid $17,500 for professional fees and no more than $8,500 for advertising, travel, long-distance calls and other expenses.

It is unclear if the hiring delay will cost the city more money.

Black-Brann declined requests for comment.

Mayor Mike Villalta said there has been no decision on how the appointment of an interim city manager will affect the amount paid to the recruiter, and he would not speculate.

"The interview process is not over," he said. "Once the process resumes, we'll have that discussion with her."

City Attorney William Vaughn did not respond to an email and phone calls regarding the contract.

City Council began interviewing candidates in September.

Brizzee will serve as the top administrator for both the city and the Los Banos Police Department until a permanent city manager is hired. He will receive an additional $770 a month during his interim city manager tenure.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at

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