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Sacramento’s new city manager will get a 16 percent increase in salary over the previous city manager, making him the highest-paid in city history and the first to receive a labor contract.
John Shirey’s three-year contract, which includes a $258,000 base salary was approved by the City Council with a 7-2 vote Tuesday.
According to the staff report on the contract, Shirey’s annual salary is within the city’s current salary pay range of $187,357-$281,035 for the position.
The staff report also notes that Shirey’s benefit package is essentially the same as for city charter officers such as city attorney and city clerk, with two exceptions: Shirey will pay his own 7 percent contribution to PERS and, instead of the typical 4 percent contribution to a 401(a) plan, the city will contribute $15,000 to a deferred compensation plan.
These changes give the city a net savings of nearly $13,000 – approximately $10,000 for the PERS contribution and approximately $18,000 for the 4 percent contribution to a 401(a) plan.
The new contract includes a severance clause that provides for payment of six months’ salary and medical benefits if Shirey or the council terminates his employment before the contract expires.
A recent press release from Eye on Sacramento, a local political watchdog group, criticized the contract as “fundamentally wrong” for the 16 percent pay hike the contract includes.
“The (pay increase) for its city manager is immensely insensitive to city taxpayers and city employees who have seen their pay cut or jobs eliminated in the current recession,” the release states. “The council's extravagance with its top manager's pay cannot help but make future relations and negotiations with (the) city's unions more difficult and probably more costly to city taxpayers.”
Earlier this week, Local 522, the union representing 550 city firefighters, voted to defer a five percent payraise until 2013 and give six percent to their pensions, according to a labor leaders.
Jaymes Butler, municipal vice president for Local 522 and a captain in the department, told council members Tuesday that, when asked to “do their part” despite being the lowest paid in the region, “our (union members) stepped up to do it.”
Had they known what the city manager’s salary package would look like, Butler said, his union membership would likely not have voted for labor concessions as they did.
“The last time I checked,” Butler said, “none of these (city managers) save lives.”
Councilwoman Angelique Ashby said she’s looking forward to working with Shirey, though she is disappointed with the compensation package.
“It’s unfathomable to grant the largest compensation package in the history of Sacramento during one of the worst economic times in the history of Sacramento,” Ashby said. “It’s counterintuitive.”
Ashby said she could not support the contract “in the same week that firefighters step forward and help us initiate true pension reform for the first time” in the city of Sacramento.
“I just feel like there is no reason to make an exception to the standard of everyone working for the city to pull their weight and do more with less,” Ashby said.
Councilman Rob Fong supported the contract and welcomed Shirey to the position.
“The salary is within the range for the position,” Fong said, “so, yeah, he’s going to get more than we gave (the previous city manager). (Shirey) has an impressive wealth of experience. We are fortunate to have him.”
Mayor Kevin Johnson said he assumed the contract was supported by the majority of the council, but he reiterated concerns about the recruitment process that he expressed in a recent press conference.
Johnson said that the process could have been “more comprehensive,” and he was disappointed that there wasn’t any public input.
The recruitment process wasn't as transparent as it should have been, Johnson said, and he objected to granting a contract that makes Shirey the highest-paid city manager in the city’s history.
“This defies logic, in my opinion.” Johnson said.
With the new contract in place, Shirey will begin work as city manager Sept. 1.
Melissa Corker is a Staff Reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelisaCorker.