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Council delays manager’s contract
• Two councilmembers want more study contract changes
Terrazas mug
Ceres City Manager Alex Terrazas

Alex Terrazas has been acting city manager of Ceres since being tapped in August to replace Tom Westbrook. On Monday, however, the Ceres City Council delayed approval of his employment contract with two members saying they didn’t have enough time to completely go over its details.

Councilman Mike Kline expressed concerns over the contract, saying that Terrazas reviewed his contract with his attorney and had some adjustments made.

“Not knowing what those adjustments are I would like some time to sit with the city attorney and go over the changes that were made,” said Kline.

Kline also expressed concerns about the contract offering Terrazas 5.5 percent of his annual salary in exchange for choosing not to take the city-offered health care benefits. He said that equates to $11,500 per year. Kline said other employees who opt out of the city-sponsored health insurance plans only get $200 per month, or $2,400 per year.

“Healthcare is worth the same to all individuals,” said Kline. 

He asked for the council to delay approval until the May 9 meeting.

City Attorney Tom Hallinan noted that the contract changes were few and minor.

Councilman James Casey said that while he has appreciated Terrazas’ performance “under the circumstances that he’s had to work with,” expressed frustration in being unable to meet with Hallinan to discuss the contract.

“I expected a private hearing to go over the contract and again it goes back to the communication that I feel our city and I as a councilmember; we don’t do that well in communicating with the general public about things,” said Casey. “We got this agenda item sometime on Thursday. I was surprised to see it as a resolution for us to vote tonight to approve it. I fall back again to the city attorney. I was given the impression we were going to meet in a closed session.”

Casey then stated he was able to vote to approve it.

“Nothing against Alex but against the process in which this was brought before us,” said Casey.

Vice Mayor Bret Silveira said he was okay with approving the contract and was the lone vote against delaying its approval.

Ceres resident John Warren said he reviewed the contract and felt that Terrazas’ salary is “a little too high” for a city the size of Ceres.

The contract calls for Terrazas to earn an annual base salary of $210,000.

Warren also questioned why the city would pay Terrazas to drive to Ceres City Hall from his home in Los Banos.

“I don’t think a person in that position should be compensated for driving back and forth to work, in other words, an allotment for an automobile,” said Warren. “In this particular case, the gentleman lives a ways out of town and I know that when I was employed no one paid me a stipend to drive back and forth to work. No one also paid for my life insurance. I think the salary, at over $200,000 a year, is more than enough compensation for the person to drive their own personal vehicle to work and to pay for their own life insurance.”

Warren added that a city vehicle would be “more than appropriate” for Terrazas to use while on trips for city business.

Before coming to Ceres, Terrazas was city manager in Los Banos under a five-year contract that was set to expire in June 2021. However, four members of the City Council there wanted him gone and he was terminated months before his contract ended.

The details of that termination were not made public.

Terrazas was hired by Los Banos in June 2016 under five-year contract with a base annual salary of $170,000. Los Banos has a population of 44,264 and Ceres a population of 49,204.