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Draft contract offered King a base salary of $130,000

By Staff | Jul 21, 2010

An early draft of City Manager Gary King’s contract had a base salary of $130,000, $10,000 less than the amount presented to Cape Coral City Council and $2,500 less than the amount ultimately reached after King put a final figure of $132,500 on the table Monday night.
Council agreed 5-3 to that base compensation, plus benefits and another $20,000 in possible incentive bonuses.
The draft was turned in to the city attorney’s office on July 7, according to an email to Dolores Menendez from council legislative assistant Gwynne Hickman, at the direction of council member Bill Deile.
Deile negotiated the terms of the draft and proposed contracts during city council’s hiatus with Gary King.
He said he felt he negotiated a fair contract, much as he did with Carl Schwing, but Sunshine Law restrictions kept him from communicating King’s desired terms to other council members.
Deile didn’t think council would approve a salary of $140,000, and had felt the $130,000 was not only fair, but would also set an example for city staff, many of whom may see pay reductions in the near future.
“The only reason I thought (130) was a good number, I wanted to demand pay cuts for everyone else as well, and I felt he had to set an example,” Deile said.
King suggested the reduction from $140,000 to $132,500 himself during the special meeting called to discuss the contract proposal, saying he would work for similar reductions among top management and wanted to lead by example.
King declined further comment through the city’s public information office Wednesday.
Mayor John Sullivan said he had not seen the early version of the contract.
He did say King’s eventual base pay of $132,500, the number King said he would agree to during a speech made before the dais, was sufficient, and that King has already taken the lead on pay reductions.
“It’s not the number, it’s the fact he’s willing to do that,” Sullivan said.
Councilmember Marty McClain, who did not support the contract, though, said an offer for less than King eventually settled on for his base pay might give the wrong perception to city staff.
He said he’s been receiving input from citizens who feel King initially set his salary higher merely to give the appearance of reduction.
Other council members also requested some of King’s benefits – such as six month severance package and the incentive bonuses – be removed.
Not addressing those concerns, McClain said, might also give the wrong message.
“Perception is everything,” McClain said. “Had he done a deduction anywhere else in the contract, there wouldn’t have been much said. He chose an area where everyone in the city is impacted.”
Like McClain, Councilmember Kevin McGrail did not support the contract. He felt the six month severance package was too generous, and the car allowance of $450 a month should be struck in favor of a fleet vehicle.
McGrail had no issue with the base salary, but did compare the hiring of King to an “experiment” with very little wiggle room.
“I feel it’s an experiment, and we can ill afford to make a mistake,” McGrail said. “I hope it succeeds, but now we need to move ahead. Let’s keep the experiment fair, and if he’s successful, he’s successful.”
Councilmember Pete Brandt also said he had not seen the earlier version of the contract as did Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz.
Chulakes-Leetz felt the salary range for the job was never clearly defined, either by council or during the hiring process, and that was a mistake.
He was pleased with the salary King eventually took.
“I feel Mr. King addressed every item in his statement to council,” Chulakes-Leetz said.
Council members Erick Kuehn and Derrick Donnell did not return phone calls for comment by press time.