by Tim Kerr
(unedited by TurlockCityNews.com)
Over the last several days I have watched in amazement as members of the Turlock City Council, have assailed my prior service as City Manager of the City of Turlock as part of their explanation to questions arising from the hiring a City Manager. Based upon these comments I feel reluctantly compelled to respond and place my service to Turlock in its proper context. In doing so, I first want to make it clear that I am not criticizing Turlock’s new City Manager. I have always found Mr. Wasden to be the consummate professional and wish him every success as he begins the next chapter in his career.
However, using what can only be described as fuzzy math and questionable assumptions members of the Turlock City Council have gone to great lengths to convince the public that Mr. Wasden’s reported starting annual salary of $202,296 is actually less than my last reported annual salary of $184,404. It has been argued that since I received 80 hours of management leave per year that I actually received $192,696 in total compensation. The “fuzzy math” problem with this argument is that my use of management leave had absolutely no impact upon my annual compensation. Like sick and vacation leave, management leave is simply a category used to track an employee’s time off. As with sick and vacation leave, my use of management leave represented no increased cost to the City nor did it increase my salary one cent. To include my use of management leave in determining my total compensation is simply false.
Additionally, the City Council contends since Mr. Wasden will give back 5% of his salary he will be earning less than I was paid. In using this argument as part of their salary comparison, the Turlock City Council is relying on what can only be described as a “questionable assumption”. This argument is based on the assumption that, were I still City Manager, I would not accept the same 5% reduction to assist the City during these difficult economic times. My history tells a different story. While serving as City Manager of the City of Livingston during the recession of the early 1990s I voluntarily agreed to forego salary increases as provided for per my employment agreement. Let there be no doubt, to assist the Turlock in these difficult economic times, I too would make the same sacrifice Mr. Wasden is now making.
Having clarified the use of fuzzy math and questionable assumptions, it should now be clear that in any math class $202,296 is always greater than $184,404.
Finally, my work ethic was also called into question when it was alleged that, as City Manager I only worked twenty hours per week. The best response to this comment can be found in the Modesto Bee editorial of May 30, 2009.
I would now like to place my service to Turlock in its proper context. When hired as Turlock’s City Manager in early 2006 I was offered a starting annual salary $180,000. Out of sensitivity to the community, I declined this generous offer and accepted an annual salary of $145,000, commensurate with the fifteen years of prior experience as a City Manager I brought to the City of Turlock. Secondly, in late 2008, aware of the growing rift between myself and members of the Turlock City Council I offered to provide the City with a one year notice of my intention to retire. During this period I offered to assist the Council address the looming financial challenges, spare the City the expense of funding my severance and allow the City to recruit a new City Manager without the stigma associated with terminating a City Manager. Choosing to terminate me rather than accept my offer to retire and pay over ten months severance the City Council has in effect incurred the cost of two City Managers.
In closing, I wish only the best to the citizens of Turlock and their dedicated employees and I trust my response finally provides much needed clarity and closure to my employment relationship.