In a unanimous vote, the Lodi City Council hired Rad Bartlam as the permanent city manager at its meeting Wednesday night. Bartlam has served more than six months as the interim city manager while continuing his duties as community development director. He will continue serving in both roles and will receive $179,925 a year, about a $20,000 increase from former City Manager Blair King’s salary.
“Mr. Bartlam is what I like to call a double I: intellect and integrity. You will do a wonderful job,” Councilwoman Susan Hitchcock said.
While all the council members agreed that Bartlam should be hired to the city’s top position, Hitchcock and Councilwoman JoAnne Mounce did not vote in favor of Bartlam’s contract.
Mounce said she could not support Bartlam receiving the same severance package that was included in King’s contract. If he is fired, Bartlam will receive six months of base pay and health insurance benefits.
Mounce said she always votes against any employee contracts with severance clauses.
“I will say I believe in Mr. Bartlam, and he will be a great asset to the city and its citizens,” she said.
There were two main reasons Hitchcock did not support the contract.
A new addition to Bartlam’s contract is a provision requiring his position be the highest paid employee in the city. The clause only applies to the positions that the council hires, so Bartlam cannot increase his pay by bumping up the salaries of the employees he hires.
Hitchcock disagreed with the policy because she has concerns about the city recruiting an Electric Utility director.
She said the current director, Liz Kirkley, is a novice, and so Lodi did not have to pay her as much as other potential hires. In the state of California, Hitchcock said there are 535 city managers while there are only 32 public utility directors, so it is a specialized field.
When Kirkley moves on, Hitchcock said the city might need to hire someone that costs more than $200,000.
She also would like to see the new council make the final decision on Bartlam once it is reorganized in December.
“Even though we are the ones who support you and have the experience with you, there still is a part of me that says you should have the support of the new council,” she said.
Bartlam’s contract also includes the same employee concessions as other city workers. Bartlam will take one furlough day a month until June 30, 2011 for a reduction in pay of $8,600, and waive the city’s match for retirement benefits.
The contract also dropped some of the benefits that King had in his contract. Bartlam will not receive $4,500 to reimburse civic club membership and Internet expenses or $1,000 as a cell phone reimbursement. He will pay for those using his salary.
One of the unique clauses in his contract is the acknowledgment that he grows and sells wine grapes on 3.5 acres and that he can continue to pursue that business.
Bartlam served as Lodi’s community development director from 1996 to 2005 before joining a private development firm in 2006. He returned as a consultant to help finish the city’s General Plan and then was hired back on as community development director.
Councilman Larry Hansen said he approved of Bartlam’s performance during the last six months as interim city manager and knows he will do a good job.
“When Mr. King came to my house and announced he found a job opportunity that he couldn’t resist, I was hugely disappointed ... Then, he softened the blow by indicating that Mr. Bartlam might be interested in the interim position. At the time, I breathed a sigh of relief,” Hansen said.
Hitchcock said Bartlam’s experience will be beneficial for Lodi.
“I love the fact that you have an invested interest in this city, and you have put your footprint on this city as community development director in ways that people don’t even realize,” she said.