Modesto retains consultant to help with parks department

local@modbee.comApril 29, 2014 

— Modesto is bringing in management consultants to help run its Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Department as the department staff deals with the impending departure of its acting manager and the need to complete several important projects.

The city has retained the services of Municipal Resource Group. City officials said Modesto is paying MRG no more than $47,600 and expects to use its services into August.

Steve Lumpkin has been serving as Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods’ interim director since December, when he retired from the city after 35 years of service. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System limits how many hours retired employees can continue to work, and city officials say Lumpkin is reaching that limit.

The city is paying Lumpkin no more than $58,723 to serve as interim director for the balance of the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. He replaced Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Director Julie Hannon, who resigned late last year to take a job with another city.

City Manager Greg Nyhoff said the department is short-staffed and has several important projects it needs to finish, such as Modesto’s first grand prix.

Modesto is working with a Southern California promoter to put on nighttime superkart races on downtown streets Aug. 1-3. Superkarts look like miniature Formula One race cars. City officials have said they expect the racers, their pit crews and the estimated 15,000 spectators will spend about $1.2 million on hotel rooms, restaurants and other purchases during their three days in Modesto.

Modesto also is in the midst of a reorganization, which includes its Public Works; Community and Economic Development; and Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods departments. For instance, parks operations and maintenance and community forestry are expected to become part of Public Works in the new budget year, which will start July 1.

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