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.
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.