Modesto likely to OK contracts for city attorney, interim city manager

kvaline@modbee.comMay 12, 2014 

The Modesto City Council on Tuesday night is expected to approve contracts for an interim city manager and with a law firm to serve as city attorney. The council meeting also is expected to be City Manager Greg Nyhoff’s last before he leaves for another job.

Modesto is hiring San Jose-based Management Partners to provide interim city manager services for $24,000 per month. Nyhoff earned $20,815 a month last year in salary and benefits. Jim Holgersson – a partner with the consulting firm – will serve as interim city manager. He has 35 years of experience in the public sector, including serving as city manager of Arlington, Texas.

He is expected to serve six to eight months until Modesto hires a city manager. Wednesday will be Holgersson’s first day. He will be paid mileage for commuting between Modesto and San Jose and for his lodging when he stays in Modesto. Those amounts were being finalized Monday.

Nyhoff’s last day will be May 30, but he is expected to be on vacation starting Thursday. He is leaving after nearly six years to become city manager of Oxnard in Southern California.

Modesto is hiring the law firm of Meyers, Nave, Riback, Silver & Wilson as its city attorney. The firm has been providing interim legal services for several months after City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood resigned in November for another job. The firm’s Adam Lindgren will serve as city attorney and the firm’s Jose Sanchez will serve as assistant city attorney.

Modesto is creating a hybrid city attorney’s office by combining the services of Meyers Nave with the remaining staff in the office, which is one attorney, a retired attorney working part time, a risk manager and several support staff after the recent retirements of three longtime attorneys.

Meyers Nave is expected to manage the department on a proposed budget of $2.37 million during the 2014-15 fiscal year, which starts July 1. The firm will be paid from that budget, which is slightly more than the department’s current budget.

Lindgren and Sanchez have drawn praise from city officials. Mayor Garrad Marsh said a hybrid model is a cost-effective and smart way to provide the city with legal services. He added that this is not an interim step to outsourcing legal services.

Lindgren said a hybrid model lets Modesto benefit from the experience and institutional knowledge of its staff and tap the resources and expertise of Meyers Nave, which specializes in public-sector work and has about 80 attorneys in a half-dozen offices in California, including one in Sacramento. He said three other cities – Walnut Creek in the Bay Area, Elk Grove and Santa Ana in Southern California – use a hybrid model.

Lindgren or Sanchez will be in Modesto on workdays. The contract calls for Meyers Nave attorneys to be paid 56 cents per mile for travel between Modesto and the Sacramento area.

The council will meet at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at kvaline@modbee.com or (209) 578-2316.

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