The following story supports city managers payouts and attempts to justify manager outrageous compensation.
The general sentiment by some Inland residents [and Morongo Basin residents], who have appeared at council meetings to decry high salary, high benefit packages and ridiculously absurd Golden Parachutes for firing a city manager with cause – paid to city officials, an argument that was bolstered by the discovery of massive abuses in the city of Bell.
City managers in some of the Inland region’s largest municipalities have stitched voluminous golden parachutes to protect themselves from the whims of elected leaders, who have provided little stability for their top executives in recent years.
Some, such as Hemet’s Wally Hill and Moreno Valley’s Michelle Dawson, will receive one year of pay as severance if they are fired without cause. Others will get six to nine months. Also included in some contracts are agreements that protect the city managers in the immediate aftermath of an election, a potentially treacherous period for executives who can be fired amid the changing balance of power.
Hill negotiated a year of severance before settling into a manager’s chair that has been warmed by seven different managers in seven years. Dawson negotiated her year before taking the reins of a city that has been mired in a corruption scandal.
These types of severance packages offset the inherent precariousness of being an “at will” employee who can lose their job for any reason, said Hill, a former assistant chief operating officer in San Diego who was replaced — with only his accrued leave to serve as a cushion — after Bob Filner was elected mayor. < --!nextpage-->
“Without such a provision, managers would likely demand higher salaries and benefits to accept that high job uncertainty,” he said. “There would also be a greater temptation for a manager to comply with political pressures that are not in the community’s interest, in order to retain their job. And that would be neither ethical nor compatible with the council-manager form of government.”
According to the Oceanside-based California City Management Foundation, the average tenure for a city manager in the state is around 4.5 years. Nationally, the average is 7.3 years, according to data collected by the International City/County Management Association, a local government trade association.
In 22 Inland cities surveyed for this report, the average tenure was less than 3 years — 2 years and 9 months, to be exact.