Mayor Defends City Manager’s New Contract

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City Manager Sheryl Sculley speaks as Tina Brown looks on. Photo by Scott Ball.

Women in the World CEO Tina Brown (left) introduces City Manager Sheryl Sculley. Photo by Scott Ball.

Mayor Ivy Taylor said City Manager Sheryl Sculley’s performance as the city’s senior executive continues to be excellent and that the salary increases in her proposed amended contract are in line with raises she received under previous administrations and with raises given other members of the city’s executive management team.

Mayor Taylor , who spoke in in a Wednesday morning interview, said eliminating an automatic retention payment and replacing it with an annual performance bonus is a significant improvement in the contract. The retention payment in 2015 was $65,000. The performance bonus will be a maximum $100,000, Mayor Taylor said.

“The amount of the raise its consistent with what we’ve given Sheryl for at least the last three years, and what we have given all the executives in the city,” Mayor Taylor said.  “I feel strongly about the bonus we have negotiated. Until now we had retention pay that was not tied to any metrics, which I find very hard to defend. I feel more comfortable standing up in front of the public and saying there are metrics we will tie to the bonus.”

Mayor Taylor said she expects to finalize the performance bonus goals that City Council will set for Sculley by March 15.

City Council will meet in executive session today to discuss the amended three-year employment contract for Sculley that includes a base salary increase of 18.75% over three years.

(Correction: The original version of this story mistakenly reported the raise over three years equaling 17.68%.)

Mayor Taylor circulated the revised contract to City Council members for review late Tuesday afternoon. It’s expected to pass with a solid majority when it comes up for a vote in open session at Thursday’s City Council meeting. The amended contract will be Sculley’s fifth since arriving here from Phoenix during the administration of Mayor Phil Hardberger in 2005.

Increases to her current base salary would be:

  •  $400,000 to $425,000 in 2016, a 6.25% increase.
  •  $425,000 to $450,000 in 2017, a 5.88% increase.
  •  $450,000 to $475,000 in 2018, a 5.55% increase.

The amended contract reduces severance pay form 21 to 12 months in the event Council decide to involuntarily terminate Sculley for any reason.

The amendment provides her with a fair and reasonable pay increase as a result of her excellent performance, while establishing metrics against which the City Council will measure her future performance,” Mayor Taylor wrote in an email to City Council members on Tuesday. “The amendment is on Thursday’s agenda and I’ve discussed (it) with each of you…”

Based on previous council discussions, Mayor Taylor is likely to have at least nine Council members join her in supporting the amended contract terms. Perhaps two Council members, Cris Medina and Shirley Gonzales, will raise concerns over the suspended collective bargaining talks with the police union after nearly two years of on-again, off-again negotiations.

Police union officials walked away from the table rather than accept the City’s last contract offer in 2015, which included a 15.75% base pay increase, including a 3% signing bonus, over the life a four-year contract. That’s significantly less than Sculley will receive in her amended contract.

Unlike union members, the city manager and other city executives serve at will.

Union negotiators ultimately settle for less merit pay in return for winning every officer, even those being disciplined or facing serious misconduct charges, the same guaranteed annual pay increase as the high-performing members of the department. Union members also receive much richer health care coverage and a higher percentage of their salaries contributed to their pension funds than civilian employees.



*Top image: Women in the World CEO Tina Brown (left) introduces City Manager Sheryl Sculley. Photo by Scott Ball. 


Rivard: The Police Union’s Fatally Flawed Strategy

Read all the stories on the City and police union negotiations in the Rivard report archive.

Police Union Targets City Manager Contract and Pay in Poll

City Makes New Offer, But Union Officials Stay Away

24 thoughts on “Mayor Defends City Manager’s New Contract

  1. The idea that Sculley’s wages will be increased by 75,000 dollars over 3 years when others salaries are not matched in a similar fashion I find very discouraging. If here logic were served then someone making $50,000 would be making 59,375 within 3 years… I just do not see that happening for all city employees and to say that they do not work as hard as her is a slippery slope…

  2. Well. Even the title of article is misleading. Council won’t be weighing the increase, according to the article, they will be approving it. The union dispute is not relevant in her salary increase, unless Mayor Taylor stipulated that. The issue I have with her, and I knew of her reputation in Arizona, is her perspective on the homeless people downtown. I went to a meeting about security with the manager and police, and she made a point that she alerts the police when she jogs in the morning on the river, so she is protected. Then the meeting progressed to tell us locals that we are lucky because the city is putting metal rails in benches so that homeless people can’t sleep on them. That’s not inclusive and doesn’t solve the problem. As s downtown homeowner, I can’t even get parking or adherence to noise/trash ordinances. But I have no clout and can’t call in favors

    • Well, you can go find a lightweight to fill the most important job in the City….and they will receive the same minor perks of office……while doing a horrible job on everything else.

      Sculley is a superstar at what she does and if we don’t pay her what she’s worth….lots of people will.

      There exists no magical solution for universal access to power for all people. Power is not inclusive. Only the complete void of power and talent is inclusive.

  3. So to me this seems like a one-sided fluff peace. It is unclear why you go from telling me Scilly will be 3 steps closer to being Oprah rich then I will ever be in my lifetime; to compare this to the police union deal that overall is not the best deal .

  4. Not even President
    Obama earns this
    Kind of money and he
    Has a hell of a lot more on his plate!!!!
    This city manager has
    No shame and who
    Designed her contract? In the meantime firemen
    Police officers and
    Majority of our city
    Streets have to WAIT⁉️

    • The whole she makes more than the president argument is ridiculous. Did you know in addition to the presidents $400k base salary the president gets:

      $50k expense account
      Free rent at a 132 room mansion with a personal staff that costs $4mil per year to maintain
      Free rent at a second summer home (camp David)
      Free access to air force 1 ($200k/flight hour)
      Free access to marine one
      $100k travel expense account
      $20k entertainment account
      $200k retirement salary, free paid staff, and an office for life

      And did you know just up the road in Dallas the CM there makes $400k in a city whose credit rating was downgraded to what amounts to two levels below Sa due to growing pension deficits and infrastructure needs.

      • To compare her performance to the Dallas CM is apples to oranges. Our Public Safety pension is considered to be the gold standard of pensions, not because of her amazing leadership but because the unions fought hard long ago to take it out of the hands of the local politicians and place it under state control where it’s above the local politics.

        Also, Sculley has an amazing cash cow that most CM’s don’t, called CPS Energy. It provides her with almost 30% of the City’s income like clockwork. How irreplaceable could she be when she was handed these two gifts before even walking in the door. It’s not like San Antonio was going bankrupt before she got here. All she did was cut spending by cutting city services and the pay/benefits of the city employees. In doing so we got triple A bond rating because she saved more money then she was spending. It’s not rocket science.

        Meanwhile, has anyone else noticed that San Antonio isn’t growing like we should? Anyone been to Austin lately? I hate to burst your bubble but how great is she really doing considering the explosive growth in population, jobs and culture of Austin compared to us. Shouldn’t our top paid city employee for the last 10 years be a little concerned about that?

        • You may find it a poor comparison, but this is how most compensation professionals determine salaries-by comparing the salaries of similar jobs in similar organizations and then determining if they want to lead, meet or lag the job market.

  5. What is her salary compared to other big Texas cities’ managers. If it’s higher, I would love to see a Rivard Report perhaps explaining the intricacies. Maybe she is the equivalent of a Tim Duncan. Oh wait, he accepted a pay cut making him paid less than most NBA centers.

  6. Over three years, the total compensation increase would be 18.75% (475 divided by 400). Summing the per-year increases is a common error.

    And please stop comparing her contract to the union. Until Sculley can kill someone and get paid time off, they are apples and oranges.

  7. I still find this claim of higher pay as very disingenuous as a public servant. Why is she so concerned with higher pay? She makes 400K, how is this not enough? It’s enough for the president of the united states. As a public servant we should have caps. This is all ego. ALL EGO…. I will be letting my council person know who I feel.

    • Joseph,

      Are you making enough at any salary if you’re consistently outperforming your peers and they’re making about the same or more?

      Many public exes could go to private companies to make lots more. Even if you look at the lowest figures out there did you know the average CEO salary of companies with at least $1billion in revenue is $1.7 million (some sources estimate as high as 9million). San Antonio has revenue of $2.5 billion.

      • You’re comparing apples and oranges again Joey. Private vs Public and she’s already at the top of her game. If a private company wanted her, we wouldn’t be able to compete as you’ve already pointed out. So why then do we need to reinforce her as the highest paid in her field by yet another almost 20%?

        She’s not the only person in the county who can get a triple A bond rating, people. However, I would bet there’s plenty of others who could do that and cut through the political mess she’s made of our public safety employees.

        • And that’s the real question. Would you rather save 50k on someone who hasn’t proven they could do what shes done? There’s no one else in the country whose done it in a big city. No one. Many of the arguments here seem more like salary envy than a rational analysis of her performance and salary which is what’s really relevant.

  8. I would pay this woman $400,000 if she would just take that smirk off her face!

    This is hard enough to have to have to read when I have received a .09 % pay raise (just once) in the last 10 years of my job and I am a teacher. You get what you pay for and we are paying for a conduit for big business and development, not someone who works for actual citizens of San Antonio (real people who have lived here, and raised families here, not the migratory rich and millennials).

    Getting people to walk and run (because she is a runner), is not necesarily caring for our citizenry in ways that WE may choose!

  9. Robert,

    First off, as long as Sculley has a Contract of employment with a “golden parachute” clause, she is also no longer an at-will employee:

    Second, the last offer to the police union was a 12.75% base pay increase over 4 years. Those increases didn’t start until year 2. The one time 3% “bonus” in year 1 didn’t count as an overall “salary increase”. Take into account public safety employees haven’t seen a base raise since October of 2013, and it really means a 12.75% raise over 7 years (or 1.8% per year) if they took the offer today.

    That doesn’t even take into account the $7K cut per employee in benefits she tied those raises to. They walked away not because of greed as you’re alluding to, but because she wants them to take a pay cut.

    Third, I’m so sick and tired of hearing the mayor and council justify Sculley’s enormous raises because we want to make sure we don’t lose her. #1, that’s what contracts are for. #2, where else is she going to go since she’s already the highest paid CM in the country?!

  10. Tragic. I am guessing the mayor and council with their full time salaries and staff are incapable of running the city. Who else receives similar pay raises, bonuses and perks. How does this compare to the average salary of our San Antonio residents? Residents should be howling mad and hold our elected officials accountable and ask are they leaders or followers? I want leaders who are not steered by personal agendas or special interests.

  11. She runs an entity (city) with thousands of employees and manages a budget of $2.5 billion. With those considerations in mind, I have no qualms about her salary or salary increases. Just as in business, becoming a world-class city requires acquiring and retaining top-tier talent.

  12. Looking to the UK (where some local government employees are apparently paid more than the Prime Minister), the City of San Antonio, along with maintaining a living hourly minimum wage and other ‘fair pay’ measures, could adopt a pay ratio policy and annual reporting — aiming for a pay ratio of closer to 15:1 in hourly terms (with a longer term aim of 10:1 – per the City of London) which, for example, could cap the top full-time pay at COSA to approximately $375k per year if the bottom full-time pay is $25k per year (roughly $12 * 40 * 52).

    The CM’s salary could increase beyond $375k, but it would trigger increases at the lowest pay rungs of employment with the City – to maintain a 15:1 or less wage/pay ratio.

    Per the UK’s Equity Trust:

    “Adopting a clear policy on pay and pay ratios can be a valuable tool in encouraging
    positive perceptions. It is also a crucial tool for enabling a swift and convincing response
    to any hostile scrutiny of pay issues.”

    Per Total Investor (UK):

    Pay ratio policy and reporting can help with the “‘difficult challenge of paying salaries which are high enough to attract talented leaders at the top, while still maintaining a sense of equity and fairness amongst the workforce as a whole'”

    A City pay or wage ratio policy and reporting is in keeping with new Dodd-Frank rules for public companies (August 2015) – as well as other efforts to curb pay inequities across US employment sectors

    Reporting of pay ratios and minimum wages (in comparison with the City’s established living wage) should also inform giving to non-profits (typically lower than a 6:1 pay wage ratio) in San Antonio. Including through Big Give SA – organizations have roughly 75 days to volunteer and promote pay ratio and base pay information to help shape this year’s Big Give.

  13. I’ll just say that I’m amazed at how absolutely transformed our city is since she’s been in charge! When I moved here in the late 90s, the few parks were pathetic. Fine arts was a unique, rare find. Now, improvements at parks, the amazing Salado Creek Trail, increased and improved fine arts throughout the city are all part of what’s giving San Antonio a far more sophisticated and lively feel.
    Not to mention the improvements made to our infrastructure. Does anyone remember life before 281 connected to 410 & 1604?
    I think this city has improved by leaps and bounds. Totally worth it to have someone who knows how to get stuff done.

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