State

Modesto's finance director leaving

Modesto City Hall has another change at the top.

Finance Director Wayne Padilla is resigning to take a job at another local government he declined to identify to Modesto officials. He did not return a call to his office Wednesday.

Padilla started with Modesto in October 2005 after nine years as the city of Madera's finance director. Padilla continued to live in Madera during his nearly four years working for Modesto.

He scored early success in Modesto, exposing a flawed study the city used for a series of water rate increases that began in 2005. It built on questions raised by the Stanislaus Taxpayers Association, which had been critical of the proposal.

"He's done a great job for us and I hate to see him leave," Mayor Jim Ridenour said, adding Padilla will stay with the city until the end of the month.

Padilla's position became an increasingly gloomy one as the economy worsened over the past two years, with Padilla often bearing bad news in budget discussions.

His departure brings the number of vacant department director positions in City Hall to six, with two caused by early retirements, two by Padilla's and Police Chief Roy Wasden's decisions to take jobs elsewhere and two by a reorganization planned by City Manager Greg Nyhoff to create a budget office and public works planning department that would answer to him.

Modesto does not have someone in the wings to pick up Padilla's work. Deputy Finance Director Cheryl Detmar is retiring.

Nyhoff's move to split the budget office from the Finance Department presumably would have cut into Padilla's responsibility in Modesto.

The department has had a reputation as a demanding environment and was linked to two wage discrimination lawsuits that involved female employees being underpaid compared with male counterparts.

The lawsuits were settled during Padilla's tenure, but they stemmed from incidents that took place before he arrived.

Padilla earned $146,482 in 2008. His starting base salary in the fall of 2005 was $117,000.

Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at aashton@modbee.com or 578-2366.

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