City-Commissioned Study on City Manager’s Pay Set for January Release

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City Manager Sheryl Sculley attends a Governance Meeting on Tuesday.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

City Manager Sheryl Sculley attends a Governance Committee meeting on Tuesday.

San Antonio City Council will receive a compensation review and performance metrics for the city manager and three other Council-appointed employees later this year. The third-party report will come more than a month after San Antonio voters approved a measure to cap the term and compensation of future city managers.

The report was commissioned by the City through a process that started in February 2017 amid concerns about the lack of formal, written review standards for City Manager Sheryl Sculley, who has held that position for 13 years.

This kind of professional report likely would have been useful to voters as they entered the ballot box on Nov. 6. Almost 60 percent voted in favor of a city charter amendment that caps the term of the position to eight years and the annual compensation to 10 times the lowest employee (roughly $300,000).

“Qualified professionals in a city leadership position is not something we should be doing willy nilly and neither should changes to the structure of governance through city charter [amendments] or any other means,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg told the Rivard Report on Tuesday. “It’s absolutely vital information and I wish this is something the City had done 10 years ago.”

Segal Waters Consulting was awarded the contract to perform the analysis in June and has since interviewed the incumbents serving as city manager, city clerk, city auditor, and presiding judge of the Municipal Court, said Linda Wishard, the Dallas-based company’s vice president and senior consultant. The mayor, Council members, and members of the Municipal Court Advisory Committee also were interviewed.

A survey was distributed to peer cities such as Austin, Dallas, Phoenix, and Virginia Beach, and other private sector organizations such as CPS Energy and SAWS earlier this month, Wishard told members of City Council’s five-member Governance Committee. Responses regarding how they compensate and review their appointed employees or counterparts are due by Nov. 19.

Segal Waters will prepare a final compensation report with salary and bonus recommendations by Jan. 7, she said.

Sculley will receive a $475,000 salary for 2018 and is eligible for a performance bonus of up to $100,000 – the latter subject to Council’s discretion and temporary metrics established by Council. While the new voter-approved rules don’t retroactively apply to Sculley, she was the target of the firefighter union-led charter change.

Nirenberg said Sculley’s contract negotiations will be decided by him, his colleagues on Council, and Sculley herself. At least one Council member has been vocal about Sculley’s pay and power. Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6), who has worked as a consultant for the public safety unions and plans to run for mayor, called for Sculley’s resignation last week. However, many City leaders credit Sculley with professionalizing the city’s government while bolstering economic and infrastructure development. Business leaders lauded her work for the City and decried the city’s future inability to attract top talent to the position.

“All of those implications have to be determined and we will live within the constraints that we have within our laws,” Nirenberg said, “but the compensation review and consultant analysis … needs to be taken at face value.”

Nirenberg said he is not sure if there will be any surprises in the report.

“I believe based on the process that we’ve used in the past that compensation is set roughly to the levels of our peer cities as it relates to these other positions,” he said. “However, we want to make sure that our review process and compensation standards are defensible and are standardized from one year to the next.”

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