Special Meeting Tonight Will Look at City Manager Compensation

Davis-city_hallThe Vanguard was surprised to learn there will be a special meeting this evening at 5:30 pm with a single item on the agenda – “Consideration of Modifying the Compensation Plan of the City Manager Position.”

Council is looking into the possibility of increasing the compensation plan to be more competitive with other cities in hiring a new city manager.

While it is an issue that the Vanguard has recently come out in support of, the Vanguard is concerned that the item has been less than visible to the public.

As far as we can tell, while the item was posted as a special meeting at 5:15 pm on Wednesday evening on the city’s website, which technically meets the standards for the Brown Act, it was only through shear happenstance that the Vanguard learned of the meeting.

In addition, the staff report will be posted at some point during the day, but at press time, that was not available either. While we think it was not the intent of staff or the city council to hide this matter from public scrutiny, the lack of a clear means to inform the public suggests that intent.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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16 Comments

  1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    Unless the Council knows already that they will not be able to hire any of the best individuals they have interviewed for the open City Manager position, it strikes me as bad policy to simply raise the compensation package at this point. I think it would make more sense to perhaps agree to a broader range, from X to X+y, then figure out just whom they want to offer the job to, and then proffer a salary within the range, based on what that individual brings to the table.

    Obviously, when the Council’s highest priority–higher than hiring a new CM–should be reducing the growth of the compensation packages they are offering all other employees, it sets a bad tone to jack up the compensation package of the prospective new City Manager right now. Yet, it might still be necessary. I am not saying otherwise. But, it seems to me, this sort of move could harm morale, and could make it harder for other, lower-paid employees to accept salary cuts as pension funding and medical costs go up and up.

    One thing I think the Council should consider is an incentive for the new City Manager to stay at least 10 years, as long as he remains acceptable to the majority on the Council. That could be done, for example, by offering her no retiree medical benefit until she reaches 10 years on the job, and from that point forward a full benefit; or it might be some kind of big cash bonus which is pre-funded, but cannot be given until the person has reached her 10 year anniversary.

  2. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    Unless the Council knows already that they will not be able to hire any of the best individuals they have interviewed for the open City Manager position, it strikes me as bad policy to simply raise the compensation package at this point. I think it would make more sense to perhaps agree to a broader range, from X to X+y, then figure out just whom they want to offer the job to, and then proffer a salary within the range, based on what that individual brings to the table.

    Obviously, when the Council’s highest priority–higher than hiring a new CM–should be reducing the growth of the compensation packages they are offering all other employees, it sets a bad tone to jack up the compensation package of the prospective new City Manager right now. Yet, it might still be necessary. I am not saying otherwise. But, it seems to me, this sort of move could harm morale, and could make it harder for other, lower-paid employees to accept salary cuts as pension funding and medical costs go up and up.

    One thing I think the Council should consider is an incentive for the new City Manager to stay at least 10 years, as long as he remains acceptable to the majority on the Council. That could be done, for example, by offering her no retiree medical benefit until she reaches 10 years on the job, and from that point forward a full benefit; or it might be some kind of big cash bonus which is pre-funded, but cannot be given until the person has reached her 10 year anniversary.

  3. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    “it was only through shear happenstance that the Vanguard learned of the meeting.

    I got an email from the City at 5:34 p.m. yesterday announcing this meeting. It said:

    5:35 Consideration of Modifying the Compensation Plan of the City Manager Position (City
    Attorney Harriet Steiner/Human Resources Administrator Melissa Chaney/Heather Ren- schler, Ralph Andersen & Associates)
    Recommendation: Modify the compensation plan to be competitive with market com- parisons. Staff report will be distributed July 17.

    It also notes that one member of the Council will be participating via teleconference from “Thunder Bay Inn, 1460 Dawson Rd, Thunder Bay, ON P7G 1H8, Canada.”

  4. Rich RifkinWDE 73

    “it was only through shear happenstance that the Vanguard learned of the meeting.

    I got an email from the City at 5:34 p.m. yesterday announcing this meeting. It said:

    5:35 Consideration of Modifying the Compensation Plan of the City Manager Position (City
    Attorney Harriet Steiner/Human Resources Administrator Melissa Chaney/Heather Ren- schler, Ralph Andersen & Associates)
    Recommendation: Modify the compensation plan to be competitive with market com- parisons. Staff report will be distributed July 17.

    It also notes that one member of the Council will be participating via teleconference from “Thunder Bay Inn, 1460 Dawson Rd, Thunder Bay, ON P7G 1H8, Canada.”

  5. D.D.

    If someone officially sent you an email and not David, it sure sounds like they didn’t want the public there.
    I like some of your ideas re: incentives to keep someone in the position.

    1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

      D.D., it was closed session. So yes, the public was not allowed to be there. The email I got came from the City, because I subscribe to their service which announces city council meetings and so on.

          1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            I stand corrected. I saw the single item, on an odd day at an odd time and presumed it was in closed session. But I just looked, to see if David was right, and he was. My bad.

          2. Matt Williams

            Rich, I made the same erroneous conclusion. I thought it was a closed session as well.

  6. D.D.

    If someone officially sent you an email and not David, it sure sounds like they didn’t want the public there.
    I like some of your ideas re: incentives to keep someone in the position.

    1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

      D.D., it was closed session. So yes, the public was not allowed to be there. The email I got came from the City, because I subscribe to their service which announces city council meetings and so on.

          1. Rich RifkinWDE 73

            I stand corrected. I saw the single item, on an odd day at an odd time and presumed it was in closed session. But I just looked, to see if David was right, and he was. My bad.

          2. Matt Williams

            Rich, I made the same erroneous conclusion. I thought it was a closed session as well.

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