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Petaluma City Council votes to keep city manager

By LORI A. CARTER

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Petaluma’s top administrator will be sticking around for a while.

The Petaluma City Council Monday night approved an amended contract for City Manager John Brown to remain on the job through June 2019.

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Petaluma City Manager John Brown. (PD FILE, 2008)

 

The unanimous vote of approval comes in stark contrast to the vote that brought Brown into town in 2008, when a sharply divided council voted 4-3 to hire him.

Councilwoman Teresa Barrett, who voted against hiring Brown then, said Brown convinced her he was the right man for the job.

“He has done, I think, an excellent job in guiding the city through some hard times and some difficult decisions,” she said, adding that those times probably aren’t over. “I’m very confident going forward with John Brown as our city manager.”

The six-year contract comes with no raise – in fact, Brown’s base wage of $208,000 is the same as the day he started five years ago. He would receive a raise of the same percentage if other city directors’ salaries are increased.

In 2010, Brown took a 3 percent pay cut for 18 months, consistent with furloughs other city employees took.

Brown, who has 30 years of experience in municipal government, is among the highest paid members of Sonoma County government. County Administrator Veronica Ferguson leads the pack, at about $304,000 including benefits and paid retirement, according to the most recent data available.

Brown outpaces Santa Rosa City Manager Kathy Millison in total compensation package, although his base pay is slightly less than hers. In total, Brown’s compensation is about $262,000 compared to Millison’s $252,000, according to 2011 figures cities provided the state controller’s office.

Petaluma is required to give Brown 60 days’ notice if it intends to terminate him without cause before the contract is up. He would be entitled to seven months’ pay and benefits if he were fired without cause.

The new contract adds a provision that the city must notify Brown within 10 days if considering termination for cause to allow him an opportunity to address concerns before a final decision is made.

The previous contract obligated the city to provide Brown with a hybrid or zero-emission vehicle, with insurance and fuel at city expense. But Brown passed on the benefit for the past five years, saving the city at least $25,000 by not having to purchase or maintain a vehicle.

The new contract instead requires the city to make a vehicle available for Brown’s use on city business, or if one is not available, he can seek reimbursement for the use of his personal vehicle.

Brown can carry over as many as 40 hours of unused leave time to the following year. The time can’t be cashed out if he leaves the city and must be used or lost after the carry-over year. Other city employees agreed to similar carry-over provisions in lieu of cash-outs.

A Southern California native, Brown was city administrator in Woodburn, Ore., population 22,800, for 10 years before coming to Petaluma. He was city manager in the Sierra foothills town of Jackson from 1995 to 1998, and before that worked for Yuba County, starting in 1987 as an administrative analyst and ending in 1995 as county administrator.

His public service career began in 1983 with posts in Ventura County government and the city of Oxnard.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori A. Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com





3 Responses to “Petaluma City Council votes to keep city manager”

  1. farmer west says:

    Not bad for a guy that gets every
    Friday off.

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  2. DON says:

    The governor make 175 per year! How could they be worth that much cash. Over 20k a month.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  3. Bill me says:

    Is anyone astounded by the salary amount? For a publicly funded employee, that’s a lot of tax payer funding! Seems you could have got the same quality City Manager on a 6 year contract for-say $175,000. That would save a lot of pension money downt the road—-

    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

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