The new city manager of Morro Bay will receive a compensation package that includes a $160,000 base salary and $39,000 in benefits for his first year.
The City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday with Councilwoman Nancy Johnson dissenting to approve the contract.
The total compensation package for David Buckingham in his first year is about $199,000.
Buckingham’s compensation also fell below the $229,000 the city budgeted for him because he comes in at a lower pension tier than most candidates since he hasn’t previously worked as a state employee, Kreins said.
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In addition to his salary, Buckingham’s compensation includes $17,500 in deferred compensation, a $450-per-month car allowance and benefits such as Public Employees’ Retirement System costs.
He also will receive a separate one-time moving allowance of $15,000. He’ll be moving with his family from Virginia.
Buckingham chose to use health insurance from his past employment with the U.S. Army, which saves the city about $4,500 in costs.
Buckingham was hired with a 5-0 council vote and begins his position Sept. 29.
Johnson said she voted “no” on the contract approval because of concerns expressed by her constituents, though she didn’t elaborate on specifics.
“Based on input I’ve received from people who elected me, they have concerns about this contract, and that’s why I’m voting ‘no’,” Johnson said. “I’m willing to give Mr. Buckingham the benefit of the doubt, and I’m willing to work with him in the time I have left on the council (through this year). But I have to represent my constituents.”
Mayor Jamie Irons and Mayor Pro Tem Christine Johnson both expressed their support for Buckingham and the terms of the employment agreement.
Christine Johnson said the council has had sufficient time to question or clarify any questions about the contract, and that any concerns should be addressed openly.
“If there are points you want to address in the contract, now’s the time to address them,” Johnson said in relation to Nancy Johnson’s comments.
Buckingham served in the U.S. Army for more than 25 years, recently retiring as a colonel. For more than two years, he served as a garrison commander in Vicenza, Italy in a position similar to a city manager.
Buckingham admitted to losing his temper and using profanity during a 2013 Fourth of July incident at the base when a military police officer failed to follow orders to open a gate that was blocking traffic at the crowded celebration.
The incident led to Buckingham being relieved of duty and reassigned by the Army to director of environmental services at the Pentagon. An investigation cleared him of any unethical conduct.
“I’m thrilled and thankful to serving the public in Morro Bay,” Buckingham said after his hire was announced in a phone interview. “If the City Council was looking for a guy to bark orders at people, they got the wrong guy. My focus is on working together with people.”
Buckingham said that he has won Army awards for his leadership and “that doesn’t happen if the team isn’t working together.”
However, Buckingham said a good leader needs to make sure duties are being completed properly and professionally, particularly when public safety is at risk, which he believed was the case with the Italy incident.
“I’m not afraid to hold people accountable,” Buckingham said.
Buckingham’s contract with Morro Bay also includes 13 paid holidays, 15 vacation days, and 12 sick days per calendar year.
Under the contract, Buckingham may resign at any time with 45 days’ advance notice. The council also may remove him at any time, with or without cause, with a majority vote.
“It is in both the City’s interest and that of Buckingham that any separation of Buckingham from the position of City Manager is done in a businesslike manner,” the contract states.