Jenny Haruyama, 42, will oversee Tracy’s finance, human resources and technology support efforts beginning Aug. 16, according to a press release from City Manager Leon Churchill.
Churchill told the Press on Tuesday, July 17, that Haruyama was a nearly perfect fit for what the city needs.
“She fits exactly what we were looking for,” he said.
Churchill said consultants told city officials “not to get our hopes up,” because of the unique combination of Haruyama’s skills and experience.
Haruyama will take over duties for Zane Johnston, the city’s finance director, and former human resources manager Maria Olvera, as part of a money-saving strategy to reduce the number of city departments and employees.
Johnston is retiring in December as part of an early retirement plan approved in October by the City Council. Olvera has already left the city.
The selection process for their replacement was exhaustive, according to Haruyama, who recalled being interviewed by an external panel of city managers and human resource executives, Tracy department heads, city employees, Churchill and an outside “industrial psychologist.”
“It was very, very thorough,” she said.
According to a salary schedule adopted in June by the City Council, Haruyama will make between $135,808 to $164,943 a year. She will also be eligible for benefits similar to those of other department heads, including a city car or $500 monthly car allowance; 120 hours per year of vacation time for the first five years of her employment; and a 2 percent at 55 benefit under the California Public Employees Retirement System.
Haruyama comes to Tracy via Los Gatos near San Jose, where she spent 12 years, the past four as assistant finance director. But she told the Press in a Tuesday, July 17, interview, that her time at the city of 20,000 gave her a breadth of experience in city government.
“I’m probably about 5 inches deep and 12 miles wide,” she joked.
In addition to her financial expertise, Haruyama brings information technology experience to Tracy, which lists cost savings through improved tech systems as one of its eight points for reducing an ongoing general fund budget deficit.
“One of the opportunities I had is implementing the (Los Gatos) council’s goal of enhancing services through technology,” she said.
Haruyama also said her primary human resource experience has been dealing with Los Gatos’ two public employee groups. That familiarity with labor negotiations could come in handy during Haruyama’s time in Tracy, as the city’s employee contracts expire in three years, the same time the Measure E half-cent sales tax increase is set to expire.
She said preparing the city for life without Measure E and closing the city’s $2.2 million general fund deficit are “critical” priorities going forward. A big part of that, she said, is negotiating fair contracts with labor groups that don’t overly burden the city’s budget.
“I think it needs to be at the forefront, because three years comes pretty quickly,” she said.
Though she hadn’t had a chance for any “workalongs” with city staff, Haruyama said Tracy has done well to handle a precipitous decrease in property taxes over the past few years.
“One of the things that really impressed me about the city is its conservative financial approach,” she said.
Los Gatos, like Tracy, stocked up an economic uncertainty fund over several good revenue years, she said. However, Los Gatos hasn’t had to touch its reserves, while Tracy has closed general fund deficits for six consecutive years with its rainy day money.
Until property tax revenue stabilizes, Haruyama said, Tracy should focus on being more efficient, using technology to enhance the services it offers to residents and developing a more robust economic base.
“Economic development is huge,” she said. “This is a great community. How can we do a better job of positioning ourselves so people can see that?”
Haruyama has lived in Northern California most of her life. She grew up the daughter of a fire department chief in Milpitas.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from California State University, San Jose and her public administration master’s degree from California State University, East Bay.
She’s worked for city government in various capacities for 20 years, including in Milpitas, San Leandro, Mountain View and Rancho Cucamonga.
Haruyama plans to live in Dublin with her husband, who works in the Coast Guard, and her four children, ages 4, 8, 12 and 13. She said her family considered living in Tracy, but wanted to stay closer to a family member in poor health.
• Editor's note: This article was corrected from an earlier version.