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Terrazas contract finally approved in 3-1 vote
• Casey felt whole process was bungled
Alex Terrazas
Alex Terrazas was appointed as Ceres’ interim city manager on Monday eveni ng.

Alex Terrazas, who has been the acting city manager since August 24, finally has a contract to officially act as the permanent city manager.

In April the Ceres City Council hit the pause button when it came to approving Terrazas’ contract with two members questioning specifics of the proposed employment agreement.

Councilman Mike Kline had 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 pointed out that that equates to $11,500 per year while other employees who opt out of the city-sponsored health insurance plans only get $2,400 per year. He asked for the council to delay approval until the May 9 meeting.

The contract was amended to give Terrazas $6,000 per year in lieu of taking the city’s medical benefits.

The contract calls for the city to pay Terrazas an annual base salary of $210,000. His contract also includes a $150,000 life insurance policy and a $300 transportation allowance in lieu of using a city vehicle to get to work and back home in Merced County. He also gets 12 paid sick days per year.

The agreement includes four months’ severance pay should Terrazas be terminated for any reason other than “any illegal act involving illegal personal gain or moral turpitude.”

Kline was opposed to an item that was inserted into the contract which the council didn’t discuss – giving Terrazas an initial bank of 80 hours of vacation time in addition to his accrual of 7.69 hours per pay period. Kline said the council didn’t discuss the matter. City Attorney Tom Hallinan said the bank was left out of the second version of the contract but that he emailed the councilmembers on May 6 about the vacation banks being requested by Terrazas.

“If I missed the email then shame on me,” said Kline.

Mayor Javier Lopez said he didn’t remember the email either.

“I must missed it too,” said Councilman James Casey, who previously expressed concern about things appearing and reappearing in the contract and said “It’s a shame it’s dragged out so long.”

Terrazas said it felt “terribly awkward” to discuss the contract out in the open – instead of a closed personnel session – but said since he wasn’t privy to the closed session discussions he assumed the contract presented had been reviewed by the council.

Kline reiterated that the agreement discussed in the last closed session did not include the bank of 80 hours of vacation.

Vice Mayor Bret Silveira motioned to end the conversation by approving the employment agreement which was approved 3-1. Casey voted no.