Ex-Assistant Replaces R.H. Estates Manager

Times Staff Writer

Ray Taylor, 36, who left the city three months ago after serving as assistant city manager for 3 1/2 years, is returning to replace his former boss.

Mayor Jerome Belsky said Taylor has accepted the job of city manager at an annual salary of $45,000 and will replace longtime City Manager Harry Peacock, 44, who is taking over as city manager of Saratoga in Northern California on Sept. 3. The city hopes Taylor, who recently became city manager of Ojai, will be in his new job by Sept. 30.

Belsky said the City Council will appoint Taylor city manager on Tuesday and predicted a unanimous vote. "There's no question," he said. "The council was unanimous in giving me the go-ahead to make him an offer."

Ojai City Councilman Frank McDevitt said he is disappointed by Taylor's decision to leave. "No one likes to see someone come in for two months and then go back out," he said. "I thought when I hired a manager there was a certain amount of commitment." McDevitt said, however, that Taylor has done a good job in Ojai and the council is "sorry to see him go."

'Good Experience'

Taylor said his brief tenure in Ojai has "been a good experience," but he said, "I feel a very strong commitment and ties to Rolling Hills Estates, the community and the council. That weighed heavier on me and made my decision for me."

"We are fantastically lucky to have someone who worked for us for 3 1/2 years and who knows everything going on in the city, has no learning period to go through, is known by all the community and staff and who is known and respected by the council," Belsky said.

Belsky said that when Taylor was with the city, he was viewed as a potential city manager if Peacock left.

Taylor said he took the $42,000-a-year Ojai job, which he started May 20, because he wanted to be a city manager, found Ojai a "beautiful community" and had no indication that Peacock would be leaving Rolling Hills Estates. Peacock said that at the time Taylor left, Peacock had been contacted by a recruiter for Saratoga "but I didn't know if I would be interested in them, or they in me."

Taylor Praised

Peacock said Taylor will be a good city manager: "Ray has a good ability to work with people, to be informed, and to keep the council informed about what's going on." He said Taylor is a quiet, informal person with a good sense of humor.

Taylor still owns a home in Torrance, but said that he and his wife, Susan, and their two small children hope to live in Rolling Hills Estates.

Peacock, who resigned his $51,036-a-year post two weeks ago, has been city manager for 12 years. He will receive an annual salary of $53,000 in Saratoga.

Doug Prichard, 27, assistant city manager, will become acting city manager when Peacock leaves on Aug. 30.

Taylor was paid $35,000 a year as assistant city manager in Rolling Hills Estates.

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