Members of the Morro Bay City Council formally approved the contract for the city’s new city manager, despite one councilwoman changing her stance from an earlier report and withdrawing her support.
On a 4-1 vote, councilmembers approved a contract with David Buckingham. Under his new contract, Buckingham will draw a salary and benefits package totaling $199,183 (according to a city staff report, the city had budgeted $229,126 for the position in the current fiscal year).
Councilwoman Nancy Johnson cast the sole dissenting vote, a switch from her earlier vote during the council’s unanimous Aug. 8 decision to hire Buckingham. Though Johnson didn’t detail the reasons behind her vote change, she said she could no longer support a contract with Buckingham due to numerous comments she received from constituents.
“I believe in giving Mr. Buckingham the benefit of the doubt,” Johnson said, adding that she would go on record as not supporting the contract.
In particular, Johnson and other councilmembers referred to a letter they’d all received from a former councilmember, though no one specified who that member was. Asked about the letter, interim City Manager Ed Kreins said the writer raised several questions about the contract, specifically about a deferred compensation package Buckingham will receive in lieu of city-provided health insurance, paid holidays, and a scheduled evaluation in January ahead of the city’s goal-setting meetings in July.
Kreins responded publicly to the letter, specifically about the deffered compensation for which Buckingham—who collects military-provided health insurance—will receive $17,500 annually. However, Kreins said the end result will be a $4,500 savings for the city.
Asked by other councilmembers to “air out” her concerns, Johnson repeated that she was voting in reaction to the concerns she’d received.
“I will work as well as I can, with the time I have left, with Mr. Buckingham,” said Johnson, who will finish her last term in office this year.
Buckingham’s contract includes an initial base salary of $160,000 per year, 13 paid holidays, 15 vacation days, 12 sick days, a one-time moving allowance of $15,000 (Buckingham will move from the East Coast), a $450-per-month automobile allowance, and other public-employee benefits.