Over the past two plus years the Modesto Bee editorial staff has taken every opportunity to label the members of Turlock’s City Council as “divisive” because the mayor and the most senior members of council have disagreed on a number of issues affecting our community. This same editorial staff now feels the mayor and senior members of council are “out of touch” for coming to a majority consensus on a contract for our new City Manager Roy Wasden. In printing their opinion, the editorial board ignored a number of facts concerning Mr. Wasden’s contract that should be set straight for the public.
First and foremost, this council has consistently agreed to negotiate all contracts on a “Total Compensation” basis. While the reported base salary for Mr. Wasden was reported correctly as $202,296, he will indeed give back 5% on day one as all city employees have agreed to do lowering his salary to $192,181. All other benefits over which Council has authority have been either eliminated as is the case with management leave or reduced like the car allowance. The previous City Manager did in fact have a lower base salary of $184,404 but had a higher total compensation of $192,696 based on the value of his benefits. Both individuals were equally entitled to participate in the PERS Retirement and receive health benefits as public employees.
Secondly, all “Me Too” clauses have been stripped out of Mr. Wasden’s contract which means he will not benefit from contract gains by other labor units. This is crucial as the City Manager guides negotiations on behalf of Council and thus the taxpaying public. The City Managers role a lead negotiator must be free of even the perception of a conflict of interest.
Third, there are no “guaranteed” pay raises in Mr. Wasden’s contract. The former City Manager got a guaranteed 5% pay increase each year upon a successful job performance review in addition to any “Me Too” increases because of gains afforded other bargaining units. Mr. Wasden’s only method to increase his own compensation is through negotiation of his own contract with future Councils.
Fourth, because of the dire state of Turlock’s budget, the recent recommendation of the budget subcommittee made up of the Mayor and Vice-Mayor recommended a freeze of all merit and step pay increases to salary for the next 30 months. As City Manager, Mr. Wasden will be subject to the same restriction on pay increases. The new City Manager will most likely be more than three years into a five year contract before ever being able to receive a salary increase.
Lastly, Mr. Wasden has taken a job which will most likely demand 60 to 80 hours a week of his time. Because of looming layoffs due to budget cuts, the new city manager will have less senior staff to assist him in running what has become a larger city since the hiring of Turlock’s previous City Manager. Wasden’s salary amortized over the lower estimate of 60 hours a week equates to a very acceptable $72 per hour for a highly skilled professional to run our City.
These are the facts on which a majority of the Turlock City Council negotiated the new City Managers contract. Reporting anything short of the full facts could undermine the credibility of our new City Manager before he even begins his new job. That would be a shame as Roy Wasden clearly rose to the top of our search and hiring process as a man of unquestioned integrity and leadership ability. We look forward to working with Mr. Wasden in the very near future.
John Lazar Ted Howze