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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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Guest Opinion: Why I voted to give our city manager a $12k bonus


File photo, then-Citrus Heights Vice Mayor Tim Schaefer speaks to the Park Oaks Neighborhood Association during a meeting in 2021. // M. Hazlip

By Tim Schaefer–
As mayor of Citrus Heights, I am driven to be as transparent as possible on sometimes sensitive matters.

This was City Manager Feeney’s first annual performance review and the very first performance review completed by the current City Council.

Before I cover more details of this review and the reason for my decision, I’m going to speak about the “No” on Measure M campaign and how and why the campaign discussed the executive level salaries in the City of Citrus Heights.

In the heat of the Measure M election the then-City Manager painted a very bleak financial outlook for the City. As a result, the No on M campaign carefully scrutinized the City’s history of expenditures, one of the areas that the campaign identified was executive level salaries, specifically the City Manager’s salary.

The total, including deferred compensation, vacation, medical and retirement was $399,000 per year. The campaign also considered his experience as a City Manager (which was limited), the size of our city, the number of departments and the total number of City employees that he was charged with managing.

When compared to other larger Cities with many more departments and employees, the Citrus Heights City Manager’s salary was one of the highest in the region.

Fast forward to October of 2021, when a professional search was being conducted, I met with the recruiting firm and was asked what it would take for me to support a City Manager candidate.

Among the listed qualifications, I stated that any candidate that was looking for a compensation package that exceeded $300,000 annually, regardless of qualifications, would not receive my support. When Mr. Feeney accepted the position under those terms, I was delighted to vote to appoint Mr. Feeney.

For Mr. Feeney’s first review; the Council with the assistance of the City Attorney developed a process and shared that process with Mr. Feeney. It was a very high priority for me that Mr. Feeney is treated fairly and that this review process reflected the values of the City, Mr. Feeney’s performance since his appointment on 1/31/22, the City Council and the community.

Mr. Feeney has accomplished a lot in his first year, he renegotiated a terrible real estate contract, paid off and eliminated the City’s $12 million Line of Credit. He corrected some significant negative assumptions in the finances and has built up the financial reserves used to cover issues that occur when revenue receivables are delayed and obligations still need to be met.

Speaking for myself, I think it’s appropriate and customary that some kind of compensation award is warranted commensurate with an excellent performance review. I weighed this very carefully, the options were: a small annual increase to his salary and the City’s annual increase in retirement obligation, or a one-time bonus.

Ultimately, I voted to grant a one-time 5% bonus calculated on base salary only, which does not increase the City’s ongoing salary and retirement contribution costs for this position. In my humble opinion this was a reasonable and modest incentive and reward for work well done.

Still my vote is just one of five, and during the open session on April 13, the Council voted unanimously in favor of this one-time merit bonus.

Tim Schaefer currently serves as mayor of the City of Citrus Heights. He previously served on the Citrus Heights Planning Commission and was first elected to the District 3 City Council seat in 2020.

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