CHOWCHILLA — CHOWCHILLA -- Assistant City Administrator and Finance Director Wayne Padilla left his position Friday for a job in San Luis Obispo.
"They reached out to me and it seemed to be a good fit," he said.
Although, he said, it wasn't going to be easy to leave the city of Chowchilla. "It's the one community that I've worked in that I've felt a tight bond with the people and the employees. I'm going to deeply miss it."
Padilla came to Chowchilla in 2009, after spending about four years as the finance director for the city of Modesto.
In the midst of the financial meltdown, Padilla took over as the head of the finance department.
"When he first got here, he helped right the ship," said City Administrator Mark Lewis. "The city had gone through some difficult financial times and lost 60 percent of its revenue."
"He was a very important part of the council, management team that help turned this city around," he added.
Padilla said the city had significant financial troubles several years ago when he came on board, but city employees graciously agreed to significant cuts to help the situation.
"I've never seen that before, Padilla said. "And it wasn't a question in their minds. They stepped up and said, 'Tell us how to keep our jobs and help the city.'
"The people of Chowchilla have shown a lot of appreciation for the work we've done," he added. "It's been really gratifying to have people stop me in the store and say, 'Thank you for all your hard work.' "
Because of the work of Padilla and others, the city hopes to adopt its third balanced budget this spring, Lewis said. "The work they did to set that up was critical. It was an important part of getting us where we are today."
Lewis said he will appoint an interim finance director while they look for a permanent replacement. The city hopes to start interviews for that position this summer.
"Wayne was a really hard worker," Lewis said. "There are lots of good candidates and I'm sure we'll find a really good candidate. But he'll be missed."
Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.