The Ceres City Council voted 3-1 to extend – by 180 days – the city’s contract with Steve Hallam to continue serving as the point man for economic development.
Hallam has supervised and coordinated the city’s economic development and redevelopment activities on a part-time basis since 2014. Hallam’s services are needed to help wind down the former redevelopment agency as well as continue to promote Ceres to new businesses and assist existing businesses.
The council decided at its May budget workshop that the city needs a full-time redevelopment and economic manager, funded by the city’s two successor agencies to the former City Redevelopment Agency. But because the council was unable to approve the budget on June 14, Hallam’s work was hanging in the balance. As a stop-gap measure, Westbrook sought the 180-day extension, hoping the council can eventually come up with an approved budget.
City Manager Tom Westbrook said that it’s important that the city be able to respond to the day-to-day needs of economic development and redevelopment activities. Without Hallam, Westbrook said he would have to fill in the gap at a time when he is already wearing two hats – that of city manager and Community Development Director.
Hallam is paid $85 per hour and spends about 15 to 20 hours per week on the job. His contract is capped at $30,000 for the three-month term of the contract.
Vice Mayor Couper Condit asked Westbrook if the funds used to pay Hallam could be spent elsewhere, such as eliminating blight in the Ceres Downtown Revitalization Area. Westbrook said he didn’t believe they could and noted his pay is coming out of funds from bond proceeds issued by the Ceres Redevelopment Agency. That agency and others like it in California were dissolved by then Gov. Jerry Brown when it hit budget woes.
Condit was the lone vote against Hallam’s contract extension, saying “this is just something I can’t support – I think there’s other avenues that would be more effective for economic development in Ceres.
He was outvoted by Mayor Javier Lopez, and councilmembers Linda Ryno and Bret Silveira.