City manager puts stamp on staff
by Nick Rappley | Patterson Irrigator
Jan 17, 2013 | 2009 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Patterson City Manager Rod Butler is a month shy of two years on the job, and his staff is finally taking shape, with three new managers and an accountant hired in recent months.

Butler’s recent hires, all approved in 2012 by the City Council, include an accountant, a human resources manager, a director of engineering and a utility billing manager who was promoted from a finance staff position. Each went through a full recruitment and interview process, Butler said.

The newcomers have diverse backgrounds but one thing in common: They share Butler’s vision for the city’s staff and public service.

Butler said managers must be able to be trained to cover more than one job, because of the growth of the city and the small relative size of the staff. It helps to know the city, too, he said.

“We’re looking for people with a broad enough background to be versatile,” Butler said. “We can’t have people too specialized.”

As an example of versatility in action, he pointed to the promotion of account technician Marie Peterson, an eight-year city employee, to utility billing and revenue manager.

Peterson worked with permits in the building department before moving to the finance department to handle accounts. Her experience in multiple departments will help her fill in when City Hall is short on staff, Butler said, in addition to her primary responsibilities — working with utility customers and handling the city’s roughly 8,000 utility accounts.

Ken Irwin, director of engineering, is new to Patterson but already has some knowledge of the town.

He worked 23 years for GDR Engineering as an engineer and was involved with several Patterson city projects in that capacity during the past 15 years.

Irwin said the city’s reliance on engineers from contracted firms, many from outside of the area, could sometimes be a disadvantage.

“They don’t always know the place they’re engineering,” he said.

Butler pointed out that Irwin may not be able to do all of the engineering work for the city, but in hiring him, they will contract for services much less.

Lakisha Callum, Patterson’s new city accountant, has lived in Patterson for more than eight years and served as a temp for a year before to her permanent hiring in July.

Callum previously worked as a financial analyst for Otis Spunkmeyer in San Leandro.

She moved to Patterson from San Leandro in 2004, and she said she loves serving the city where she lives.

“I like being close,” she said. “I like the people I work with.”

Though Callum does not manage anyone and will serve in the finance department under Finance Director Minnie Moreno, she is considered part of the management team, Butler said.

Unlike some of her colleagues, Human Resources Manager Danielle Tucci is still getting used to California.

She moved from Bethel, Alaska, to take a similar job in Patterson in August and said she had to have the temperature in her office turned down during the summer, because she was not accustomed to the warm weather. The recent cold snap is more like what she’s used to, she said.

Tucci said the hardest part of her job has been implementing new policies and procedures. She cited a late-September dress code change that requires more professional dress and blue jeans only on Fridays, which earned her a few dirty looks.

“I got a lot of resistance,” she said.

Change is not always embraced immediately, she said.

Butler said the needs of the city are changing, too.

“Patterson has been growing from a rural agricultural town to a more diverse economy, and the new staff reflects that,” he said.

The recently filled positions had been left vacant by an exodus of high-level staff in 2010 following the departure of former City Manager Cleve Morris.

In September 2011, Butler promoted Minnie Moreno to regular finance director and Joel Andrews to city planner to fill vacancies left by former Finance Director Margaret Souza and City Planner Pat Bowden.

Accountant Lou Humphries left in 2010, and Butler restructured the community development director position also vacated in 2010 by Rod Simpson to hire Irwin.

Butler also restructured the position left vacant by Moreno’s promotion to develop Peterson’s position.

n Contact Nick Rappley at 892-6187, ext. 31 or nick@pattersonirrigator.com.

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