Assistant in Sanger hired as LB city manager

tmiller@losbanosenterprise.comApril 5, 2013 

A nearly yearlong search ended Wednesday with the hiring of a city manager.

City Council unanimously voted for Steve Carrigan as city manager. Carrigan officially takes over April 22 at $156,000 a year, which is $13,000 per month. Former City Manager Steve Rath was making $159,000 a year upon retirement Oct. 31.

Carrigan, 50, is assistant city manager of Sanger. He said he’ll be in Los Banos on April 17, and is looking forward to immersing himself in the community and tackling city projects.

“I’m just a regular guy who wants to come in and work hard,” Carrigan said, adding he’ll use the first 100 days to learn and listen to officials and community members.

“Economic development is my strength and background,” he said.

Carrigan has worked for Sanger for 16 months, and before that spent eight years as economic development director in Stockton. He has more than 20 years of experience in the public sector, according to a news release.

Carrigan said he took the assistant manager position, which was brand-new at the time in Sanger, with an eye on the top executive’s office. A plan he said he made clear to Sanger officials. He said he was able to “fine tune” his skills in that position.

“I really feel I have the potential to be very good — or a great — city manager,” he said.

Stockton, in a tailspin while dealing with a $30 million budget crisis, laid off Carrigan in 2009 along with two other department leaders and 29 police officers. The city officially filed for bankruptcy in 2012, and was granted Chapter 9 protection this week.

Carrigan called Stockton’s hardships “a perfect storm” of upside down home values and bad waterfront projects like an arena and ballpark. He said his projects were shopping centers, what he called hubs for jobs and tax revenue.

“I’m very proud of my projects in Stockton,” Carrigan said.

In Sanger, Carrigan worked on budgets, public safety, economic development, water negotiations and other operations, the release stated.

Mayor Mike Villalta praised Carrigan in a news release.

“Steve brings a broad range of experience to Los Banos that will prove valuable as we focus on important areas of economic and community development,” Villalta said, in the release.

Villalta also said staff will host an open house at City Hall for residents to meet Carrigan on April 17. No time has been set, according to staff.

City Council also approved Carrigan’s employment agreement, which includes a three-year contract with benefits, a moving reimbursement not to exceed $5,000 and a housing allowance of $1,250 a month for a maximum of six months.

City Attorney William Vaughn said the temporary allowance is meant to encourage the top executive to move to town sooner.

“Those will be actual expenses, and he’ll have to prove that he’s spent those dollar amounts to receive a reimbursement,” Vaughn said.

Carrigan’s wife, Michelle, and two children will move at the end of the school year, the release stated.

Council hired the recruiter Teri Black-Brann in April 2012, with early speculation that council could hire a city manager by August 2012, but snags along the way held up the process.

The search stalled during the November election, and the recruiter recommended City Council postpone the process until after new board members were seated. Before continuing the process, Black-Brann requested $4,000 more in December. The additional fee brought the total to the budgeted amount for recruitment of $29,500, according to city staff.

Since Nov. 1., Acting City Manager and Police Chief Gary Brizzee has covered both jobs at a monthly salary of $10,937, which is $770 more per month than he made as police chief alone.

Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at tmiller@losbanosenterprise.com.

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