Atwater's finance director retires

03/07/2013 7:32 PM

03/07/2013 7:33 PM

ATWATER -- The transformation at City Hall continued Thursday.

Since enduring a financial crisis that threatened bankruptcy, there have been many changes to Atwater's leadership. Now, Finance Director Glen Carrington can be added to that list.

Carrington, who retired Thursday, has worked for Atwater since November 2007, according to City Clerk Jeanna Del Real.

Frank Pietro, Atwater's police chief and interim city manager, said Carrington's been through a lot since the city's funds dwindled to disastrously low levels -- nearly triggering municipal bankruptcy.

Carrington, 61, couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

Pietro said Carrington was a resource for both him and the financial consulting firm the city hired to alleviate its budget woes.

A general fund deficit of more than $4 million along with deficits in Atwater's water and sanitation funds led to a financial crisis that's resulted in pay cuts, eight layoffs and other reductions.

The city narrowly averted bankruptcy late last year, but did declare a common-law fiscal emergency.

On Tuesday, residents approved a half-cent sales tax aimed at supporting public safety. The extra tax is expected to bring in $1.3 million to $1.6 million a year. The initiative was approved by 67.1 percent of the voters.

The city's spent about $100,000 on the financial consulting firm, Municipal Resource Group, to try to reach fiscal sustainability.

Bill Zenoni, a financial consultant with MRG, will work as the city's finance director one or two days a week until the Carrington's position is filled permanently, said Pietro, who added that the city might hold off on making that hire to save money.

"We're trying to save as much money as we can right now to get through this crisis," Pietro said.

Councilman Larry Bergman said he's glad Carrington stepped in to fill the role of finance director when Stan Feathers, Atwater's former assistant city manager and finance director, parted ways with the city.

Atwater's financial troubles can't be attributed to one person, he added.

"This situation has been going downhill for several years," Bergman said. "It's unfair to try and put the blame on any one individual."

Bergman thinks Carrington was "dealt a rough hand," especially considering how Atwater's had five city managers in the past two and a half years working in acting, interim or permanent roles.

"With so much turnover, it's hard to keep a ship going on the same course when you have so many captains at the helm," Bergman said.

Carrington's annual base salary totaled $100,675, according to 2010 data provided by the city. Information supplied by the city Thursday had his annual salary listed at about $86,000.

Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or mnorth@mercedsunstar.com.

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