The Davis City Council is set to approve the contract of Dirk Brazil in a consent item after they voted 4-0-1 in closed session to appoint Mr. Brazil as the new city manager. If approved, he would take over on November 3 following six months with Interim City Manager Gene Rogers at the helm.
The contract calls for Mr. Brazil to receive $217,200 in base salary, an increase from the previous base salary of $188,000. The agreement shall be in effect through November 2, 2017, and will automatically renew and extend three years “beginning on November 3, 2017, unless written notice not to renew and extend is given by City to Employee no later than six (6) months prior to the renewal date.”
The contract calls for: “In the event the City implements cost-saving measures, such as work furloughs, salary reductions, changes to health or welfare benefits and allowances or any other changes to the monetary terms of the executive management unit as provided in the applicable MOU, Employee will receive the same downward adjustment or adhere to the change in terms as that applicable to the executive management unit.”
There is also a provision that, “other than for gross mismanagement or an act of moral turpitude,” there can be no action by the council to terminate the employee within 90 days prior to or immediately following a city council election.
The base salary marks an increase, both for the city manager position as well as for Dirk Brazil himself. Mr. Brazil as Deputy Council Administrator received $164,782 in total wages, plus another nearly $25,000 in retirement and health care.
The city manager compensation was increased in mid-July following a special meeting. The council voted to “establish a salary range of the City Manager position up to a range of $217,200 to $241,300, with appointment to be made within the range based upon the qualifications and employment history of the individual appointed to the position,” and “establish a limit of up to 10% for additional monetary benefits (in addition to health/dental and PERS retirement benefits), to be negotiable.”
The city and consultants did a rate comparison that showed Davis’ city manager compensation of $188,000 was at the bottom of the market.
As the staff report noted, “Working with the guidance of the Recruiter, staff conducted a labor market analysis of certain cities within an approximate 60 mile radius of Davis to determine the city’s competitiveness in the marketplace. Based on the survey information it is evident that the city’s medical/dental and retirement benefits are comparable to other cities in the region. The area where Davis is clearly not competitive is salary and additional cash-related benefits (i.e. deferred compensation, PERS pickup and auto allowance).”
The consultant suggested that the city should aim for between the 50th and 75th percentile in terms of compensation, which would bump up the pay range from the current level to from $217,000 to $247,000.
As staff wrote, “Given the desire of the Council to attract and select a highly qualified City Manager, the recruiter recommends using the 75th percentile of the market to establish the high end of the range, which would be $241,300. The additional benefits provided are widely varied.”
“Any city manager worth their salt is really 24/7 City Manager,” Councilmember Lucas Frerichs said. “In Davis that is absolutely not the exception, it’s the absolute rule. Whoever has been and whoever will be the city manager is going to be someone who is facing such a wide range of really important tasks working on not only budgets and such but revenue issues and also economic development, innovation parks and stuff like that.”
Councilmember Swanson talked in terms of being a regional leader. “The 24/7 is certainly an expectation on the city manager,” she stated. She added that “this is the right thing to do to ensure that we really get the best candidate pool including those that we have already seen and making sure that we give the community the very best that we can.”
Mayor Dan Wolk then added, however, “I think what Robb [Davis] is bringing up is an important point.” He noted that “[this is] during a time of budget crunch and we are getting concessions from our existing employees,” and he believed that was an important point.
Nevertheless, in the end, he agreed with the consultant. “I will support this,” he stated. “Having a really good city manager can make a huge difference. It is clear from the data that we are significantly below… other cities.”
“To get good people, salary is a critical part of that,” he continued. “Even though we’re in a period of tighter budget, even though we’re in a period where we’re making concessions… I think that it’s important that we have a good city manager at the helm.”
He said he hoped that the city employees would understand that a greater salary would give the city someone who can be a good city manager and be very good on employee morale issues.
In 2011, the City of Davis hired Steve Pinkerton. Mr. Pinkerton had just taken a $65,000 cut – a nearly 30 percent compensation decrease from his 2008 salary at Manteca. “It wouldn’t be right for us (management) not to take the same hits that other city employees have been asked to take,” Mr. Pinkerton said at the time.
Mr. Pinkerton arrived in Davis taking only a very modest pay increase over his predecessor. He often stated that, had he taken any more, it would have nearly impossible to get the employee groups to take concessions. As it was, two of the bargaining units would go to impasse.
The $217,200 figure moves Davis from the bottom in the 15-city comparison of city manager compensation to the middle of the pack, still below median and average.
—David M. Greenwald reporting