A little bit more on the City Manager’s contract extension (updated)

Posted by Jeremy Shulkin

Now that everyone’s aware that the city council voted last night 10-1 in favor of a contract extension (Rick Rushton’s nay doesn’t mean he was against the extension in general, just a portion of it), let’s dive into what’s in it.


This contract extension wipes out portions of his old contract and supplements others starting at 12:00 am on March 23, 2012 until 11:59 March 23, 2015. If the city council does not want to retain his services beyond 2015 they have to let him know by September 23, 2014.


According to a quick city council fact sheet, O’Brien’s “final annual FY salary amount as identified in the executed, current five-year contract is instead the final annual FY salary amount of the total of eight years.”

What this means is O’Brien’s final salary in 2015 will be $193,214, which is what he was supposed to be making in 2012, the year his old contract would have expired. Here’s the salary breakdown over the next few years:

Current salary (FY2011): $182,776
FY 2012: According to the contract, O’Brien “will continue to forego his contractual and ordained salary increases but Mr. O’Brien will revert to the salary level originally scheduled for July 1, 2009 at some time prior to March 23, 2012.” This means he’ll move up to $185,711.
FY2013- 0% increase: $185,711
FY2014- 2% increase: $189,425
FY2015- 2% increase: $193,214

Every year O’Brien also receives $12,000 in “deferred compensation,” which a city spokesman says is similar to retirement or a 401K. When the extension kicks in on July 1 of 2012 that will be upped to $16,500 each year.


This is the section that Councilor Rick Rushton said he had issues with. According to his last contract, if he were fired/removed he would get a year of severance pay. If the city council chooses to fire O’Brien during this contract period (starting March 23, 2012) then he’ll be paid his annual salary until March 23, 2015. Of course, if he’s removed because of stealing/criminal offenses, then he doesn’t get the severance.

Charter Change:

In the comments of the live blog post the ideas of charter change and having a strong mayor came up. After the council meeting I spoke with a couple of councilors about how the “almost unilateral” vote signals they’re looking for stability over the next couple years, which are forecast to be pretty fiscally awful. If the vote fell to something like 6-5, 7-4, or even 8-3 that would show division among the council and administration. As one councilor put it, “it’s not to say charter change shouldn’t be looked at eventually, but now’s not the time to do it.” Sorry strong mayor backers, it’s going to be awfully tough to get the votes required over the next couple years — unless you can convince Mike O’Brien to run for mayor.



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4 responses to “A little bit more on the City Manager’s contract extension (updated)

  1. “it’s not to say charter change shouldn’t be looked at eventually, but now’s not the time to do it.”

    One might think a better would have been “let’s see what the voters or our citizens have to say about that.” Really who say’s now is not the time and who should decide that?

    Isn’t that just what some find troubling with this city’s government? A perception of the appearance that some of these councilors apparently think they know better about what’s good for us than we do.

  2. I have to agree with williby. I’m not saying that O’Brien isn’t doing a good job, but locking the residents of Worcester into five more years (from now, not additional to the contract) of someone we know virtually nothing about with no input from the voters is completely undemocratic, and that is ultimately what is wrong with this opaque form of government.

  3. -Q

    When would the time be right to have a charter review commission?
    A charter review commission could be a review on the city council format of governance, how many councilors or how few councilors…….
    A charter review commission could actually enact the Neighborhood Councils that is already in the existing charter and the one thing that the city councilors fear the most – active citizen participation.
    Just having a charter review commission does not mean the city managers job is in jeapordy but if put to the correct use – it could close loopholes that currently exist amongst city councilors and the city manager where decisions are made in a vacuum with no accountability to the taxpayers and residents of our city.
    To extend the city managers contract with close to 2 years remaining on the existing contract and the city councils consensus is that it will provide “stability” over the next 5 years is a complete non-sensical misnomer – quite frankly this indicates a complete failure on the city managers part in not having a line of management succession in place – which by the way is the basic fundemental management course 101 and the city councilors are completely responsible for lack of true foresight in moving our city forward.

  4. Liberal

    Sorry -Q but I disagee with you on this one. It’s bad enough that we already have the ineffective city council with thier NIMBY positions always stiffling any real and progressive change until it’s usually too late, and the opportunity is missed. Now you want a “Minor League” city council to slow things down even more? Whats next the “Left Side of June Street Council”? The city needs real charter reform and a truly strong mayor who can make quick decisions and move on projects. And while I’m at it, why do you even bother with the likes of Jim Polito? who refers to you as “No I -Q”? You might as well be talking to Carl Paladino, or Christine O’Donnell.

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