ALAMEDA, Calif. — Vallejo, Calif., appointed a new interim city manager this week.
Phil Batchelor will be the third person to serve in the post since the city filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in May 2008. It has yet to emerge from the process.
Batchelor was the administrator of nearby Contra Costa County for 17 years. Since his retirement in 2001, he has served in a variety of interim administrative positions, including a turn as the interim city manager in Richmond, Calif., during 2004-2005, as the city worked through its own financial crisis.
“Mr. Batchelor has an excellent track record in handling turn-around situations,” Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis said in a statement issued Tuesday night, after the City Council announced the hiring.
“We’ve been focusing on organizational and structural changes needed to bring the city to a healthy and stable place,” Davis added. “This is a critical time for us, and we look forward to drawing on Phil’s extensive experience to help us turn the corner.”
Batchelor assumes his new post Monday. He will replace Bob Adams, who has served as interim city manager since June 2009, when the City Council ousted the last permanent manager, Joe Tanner.
In filing for Chapter 9, Vallejo cited unsustainable labor contracts that rendered it unable to meet its obligations.
The bankruptcy filing affected $53 million of debt backed by the city’s general fund.
Recently, Vallejo has battled in bankruptcy court with bond insurer National Public Finance Guarantee Corp. over $4.8 million in certificates of participation the city sold in 1999.
The insurer argues that the bonds are backed with a pledge to intercept funds from a California state vehicle tax, and that the intercept funds should flow to bondholders instead of the city, which stopped paying the debt service on the certificates in question.
Vallejo has taken the position that the intercept mechanism is unenforceable given its Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing, and the disputed state revenues should continue flowing to the city.
That dispute has yet to be resolved, and there is no clear timetable for the city to emerge from the bankruptcy proceedings.
“We know the next year won’t be easy,” Vice Mayor Stephanie Gomes said in the statement announcing Batchelor’s hiring. “But we’re making real headway. The community is strongly supporting the recovery process and we are pleased to have Mr. Batchelor as a member of our team.”