Merced fills long-vacant assistant city manager job

Stephanie Dietz, who was announced as Merced’s assistant city manager on Nov. 17, 2016. She begins Jan. 3.
Stephanie Dietz, who was announced as Merced’s assistant city manager on Nov. 17, 2016. She begins Jan. 3. Courtesy city of Merced

The city of Merced has hired an assistant city manager, a position that’s been vacant since 2011, city staff announced Thursday.

Stephanie Dietz, a Merced resident and a management analyst for Merced County, will step into the position Jan. 3, according to a news release.

The 36-year-old has worked with Merced city staff on a number of cooperative projects with the county, the release said.

“With this job I get to make my home a better place,” Dietz said in a statement. “I want to be a part of the new excitement in making Merced a better place, making the community safe, stable and bringing economic opportunity here.”

Dietz has 10 years of experience working for Merced County, and almost three years of work at UC Merced, according to the release.

“The problems facing our community cannot be solved by just one agency,” she said. “I’m excited to work with the city of Merced team to share my experiences from the UC and county and enhance existing partnerships across our community.”

The assistant city manager is the No. 2 position in the city’s hierarchy, reporting to the city manager. Dietz’s role will be to support the city manager in planning, organizing and managing the city government — particularly the day-to-day operations at City Hall.

“Stephanie is an awesome addition to our executive management team,” City Manager Steve Carrigan said in the release. “She has the breadth and depth of skills that mean she can hit the ground running on Day One. Plus, she has the experience that can only enhance our relationships with UC Merced and the county.”

The hiring comes at a time when Merced is positioned to grow. UC Merced is expanding and expected to pour more than a billion dollars into the campus, and the university is also adding its $45 million Downtown Center, a 67,400-square-foot office space for about 370 employees.

Carrigan took over in January and recently hired a new fire chief, and now an assistant city manager. The city also is looking for a city attorney.

Carrigan said having an assistant city manager will allow him to focus on Merced’s top priorities: the coming high-speed rail stop; housing; UC Merced-related projects; homelessness; and the local economy.

“Now that I’m able to turn over the day-to-day operations of the city, I’ll be able to spend more of my time on ... my top priorities,” he told the Sun-Star.

The city also needs to start planning for the next inevitable recession, which he said could begin in 2019 or 2020.

In her job with the county, Dietz developed and administered the $591.4 million county budget, specializing in public safety, public works, water and the capital improvement projects. She also participated in the county’s labor negotiations and led the tax-sharing team dealing with the six city governments in the county, according to the release.

Dietz was the lead for the county’s groundwater ordinance, according to the release, and she also handled the initial implementation of the Groundwater Sustainability Management Act.

She also was the county’s contact person with UC Merced, managing transportation, recreation and conservation easement agreements, according to the release, among many other projects.

As a UC Merced employee, Dietz managed the recruitment and promotion of faculty lecturers, postdoctoral scholars and researcher candidates, according to a news release.

“I’m able to bring a different perspective having worked at UC Merced,” Dietz said. “I have great respect and feel comfortable working with the people there and I understand their processes.”

She describes herself as “a Castle Air Force Base transplant” who moved to California at age 4, and graduated from Atwater High School, according to the release.

Dietz holds a bachelor’s degree from Fresno State, a master’s from National University and is a graduate of the California State Association of Counties Senior Executive credential program, the release said.

The position pays $147,408 to $179,175 a year.

Thaddeus Miller: 209-385-2453, @thaddeusmiller