City Manager Mark Scott, the highest paid employee in the city of Burbank, plans to retire in the new year.
His decision follows the City Council’s rejection of an item at Monday’s meeting that came to them for the third time.
At issue was the creation of a new position that may have ultimately resulted in giving a current Public Works employee a raise to match the employee’s actual duties. According to city documents, the employee had taken on the job description of a higher position.
Scott, who makes close to $300,000 a year, joined the city in 2013 after positions as city manager in Beverly Hills and Fresno, among others, and has more than three decades of experience in city management.
In an email, Scott described the purpose of having the item on the agenda.
“The item on the agenda was simply to create the Public Works Administrator position comparable to similar positions in the Fire and BWP [Burbank Water and Power] Departments,” Scott said. “We were not asking the Council to approve a personnel appointment. That is a City Manager role as defined in the City Charter. This is the same as in any other Council-Manager governance system.”
Scott explained that “staff wanted the position created in order for the department head to implement a position upgrade, following a professional HR Department evaluation of the work done by a specific employee.”
He also gave a reason for deciding to part ways with the city.
“I was disappointed that after 3 attempts, a majority of Councilmembers voted no without explanation,” Scott said. “There was no cost implication from creating a job description. If we had subsequently promoted the employee, then the cost would have been about $14,000 which was budgeted.”
City Hall watchers in Burbank know that council meetings often run long, and it is not unusual for meetings to run past midnight.
Monday’s meeting ran past 12:30 a.m., and it was at a late hour that Scott voiced his disapproval with how the council handled the vote on this item, which was on the consent calendar.
Usually items on the consent calendar require little discussion.
The council, in a 3-2 vote, declined to approve the new position, which included a salary increase and title change for the employee, who was not named.
Documents that are part of the agenda indicate the item has come before the council twice in September.
The documents include a memo from Betsy Dolan, management services director, to Scott indicating that a Public Works employee is handling responsibilities beyond the employee’s pay grade and title of Administrative Officer. The equivalent of the work performed is that of an Administrator, the document states.
The change in salary and title for the Public Works employee would be to better reflect the duties the person is actually doing, the document states. A title change would mean an additional $13,989.16 a year, including the cost of benefits.
Next year’s Public Works budget is able to absorb the cost.
Dolan proposed the monthly salary range for the new position of Public Works Administrator be set at $8,114.88 to $10,671.07, which is equivalent to the classification of Administrative Officer – Burbank Water and Power, the document states. The salary range was based on the position in Water and Power as the duties include similar supervisory and human resources-related tasks.
According to the the documents, the actual monthly salary for the new Public Works classification would fall in the middle of the proposed range, at $9,392.98, or $154,201 a year.
But Mayor Bob Frutos, Councilman David Gordon and Vice Mayor Jess Talamantes voted against the change.
Frutos and Gordon are out of the country, visiting Burbank’s sister city Incheon, in South Korea.
Talamantes was not immediately available for comment.
When asked if it was unusual for the council to make a decision on a new job description, Scott responded: “Yes, unusual, but it is our code so we follow the law. My disappointment has been with the lack of explanation, especially on such a routine, low cost item.”
He added that he thought the public might “wonder if it was really such a narrow issue, then why was it even on the agenda. I agree, but our old code requires it. It’s probably a remnant from decades ago.”
Scott also said he will remain in his position a little longer, and indicated he may do something different after working in Burbank.
“I am looking at retiring sometime after the first of the year,” he said. “I need to consult with the retirement system to pick a date. I have been in the city management profession since 1972. I might stay in the field or might do something different. I enjoy my work and I very much enjoy living in Burbank. My wife also has a very active career, largely out of town, so we will let the opportunities and adventures in life guide our next steps. I would love to keep living in this great community.”
He added: “I’d like to say what a real privilege it has been to work here and with the Council and City employees. It’s time for me to move on, but I really have loved being part of this team.”