Yates County Administrator expects to be appointed City Manager of Turlock, California

After less than two years on the job, Yates County Administrator Robert Lawton is leaving the position to become City Manager for the City of Turlock, Calif., where he will earn a salary of $215,748 plus a $400 a month car allowance as well as up to $20,000 in moving and relocation expenses, according to a report in the Modesto Bee. If appointed by the Turlock, Calif. city council, Lawton will be on the job there by July 12, so he expects to remain on the job in Yates County through June.

Here in Yates County, his salary has been $100,000 plus benefits.

With a population of 73,000, the City of Turlock is located in California’s Central Valley, the state’s prime agricultural region.

Lawton notified Yates County Legislators of his plan to accept the position in a letter sent to them and county department heads late last week.

Yates County Legislative Chairman Douglas Paddock, who was out of the country last week, said Monday the legislators will probably discuss the issue at a special Human Services Committee meeting that was already scheduled for Tuesday, May 22.

Pointing out that Yates County went through an extensive process of analyzing the county government structure and administrator position after long-time administrator Sarah Purdy resigned in late 2015, Paddock commented, “We have lots of ways we can go.”

Paddock agrees with a comment in Lawton’s letter, crediting the county’s management team with being “exceptionally talented.”

“Their community spirit and dedication to the public we serve is evident in everything they do. Here in Yates County, most Department Heads are working administrators, finding time for budgeting, planning and legislative policy support all while directly providing services to the public. In each role, they maintain the highest standards of quality and professionalism.”

Paddock says the county “can get along for a while,” while legislators take time to consider options.

Lawton is just the third administrator in Yates County, following Purdy, who held the post for nearly 21 years. She left the post in December 2015 to accept a position as Ogdensburg City Manager.

Shortly after Purdy left the county, legislators and county department managers met with Gerald Benjamin, an expert on New York State government, to help identify the process of managing the county’s organization.

In 2016, as vice chair of the legislature, Paddock chaired an ad hoc task force that was charged with identifying how the county should address the vacant administrator position.

The Yates County Administrator position was created by local law in 1987. Lawton was first appointed in September 2016, and was reappointed when that unexpired term concluded Dec. 31, 2017.

Before being hired by Yates County, Lawton served as Deputy County Administrator in Sonoma County Calif. Prior to that he was County Manager in Luzerne County Pa. for about four years until Dec. 31, 2015. Lawton received his Bachelor’s degree at SUNY New Paltz and his M.A. at the University of Iowa.