The Turlock City Council chose Modesto Chief of Police Roy Wasden for the new Turlock City Manager position and voted to approve his 5 year contract at Wednesday’s Special Council Meeting.
Mayor John Lazar, Vice Mayor Ted Howze, and Kurt Spycher voted to approve Wasden’s contract. Councilwoman Mary Jackson vote in opposition. Councilwoman Amy Bublak, who worked under Wasden as a Modesto Police Officer, abstained.
The Council’s 3-1 vote approved a contract that includes an annual base salary of $202,296.00, $500/month car allowance, $100/month technology stipend (phone, computer, etc), an immediate 80 hours of sick leave and 160 hours of vacation, and provisions for a severance package totaling 9-12 months worth of pay.
The item to be voted on was pulled from the Consent Calendar so Bublak could abstain from the vote. Members of the community took the opportunity to speak on the issue; none were in a favorable light.
Former TUSD Board Member Victor Pedroza questioned the amount of pay, the process of selection, and if Councilwoman Bublak was involved.
30 year old Sergio Alvarado, a self-claimed “fairly new citizen of Turlock,” questioned qualifications that Roy Wasden did not meet according to the recruitment that demanded 3 years of experience as Assistant City Manager or City Manager. Roy Wasden had stated in interviews that “he had a lot to learn.”
“I’d like to be paid $202,000 to learn on the job, wouldn’t your guys?” asked Alvarado. “I think we need to demand better standards, better qualifications for someone who is going to be paid that much money.”
Retired professor of CSU Stanislaus, Walter Tordoff, spoke up stating that he believed the salary was “unconscionable” and told Council they are “not sending the right message to the people you are serving.”
Tordoff believed that with all the closed stores, “that there has to be candidates for this position who have more experience (or as much experience as Mr. Wasden) who would be very willing (because they’re unemployed right now) to step in this position for significantly less than $202,000.”
Councilman Kurt Spycher clarified that Wasden’s contract varied from former City Manager Tim Kerr’s contract such as Wasden’s does not include guaranteed raises on top of his non-guaranteed step increases.
Vice Mayor Ted Howze stated that Wasden $202,296 base salary will be subject to a 5% cut as everyone in the organization is taking, will not get the $7,000 in management leave that Kerr received, that he will get $1,200 less in vehicle allowance than Kerr, and therefore totals just under Tim Kerr’s contract that included a base pay of $184,404.
Vice Mayor Howze stated that Wasden is expected to work 2180 a year, giving him a base salary of about $88.00. “Mr. Kerr, who I can tell you from experience, was working about 20 hours a week; that gives him a base salary of $176.00 an hour.”
CSU Stanislaus professor Steven Filing said “I do hope Mr. Howze, you will reconsider your ill-considered remarks and perhaps retract them. I think they’re inappropriate in this city.”
Councilwoman Bublak addressed concerns with her short time served on the Council before firing Tim Kerr by referring to state law that states that she was allowed to legally take action in the firing of the City Manager after being on Council for after 30 days. City Attorney Phaedra Norton confirmed that.
City Attorney Phaedra Norton also clarified that she was the lead negotiator. Norton previously worked with Wasden as she is the former City of Modesto Senior Deputy Attorney.
Mayor John Lazar clarified that Councilwoman Bublak was not involved in negotiating or voting on Roy Wasden’s hiring and contract.