Sunday, November 2, 2008
City Administrator Contract Flawed
This Wednesday evening the Raytown Board of Aldermen will consider adoption of a contract with interim City Administrator Mahesh Sharma. The contract will install Sharma as the permanent City Administrator. Highlights of the contract include: SALARY AND BENEFITS: $99,857 annual salary. Automobile allowance of $400 monthly ($4,800 annually), health insurance as provided for all other city employees, and an annual contribution equivalent to 5% of the City Administrator’s base salary towards a pension fund (approximately $5,000 annually). WAIVER OF RESIDENCY: City ordinances require that the City Administrator live within the city limits. The contract waives that requirement for Sharma for a three year period. At the end of the period, the city MAY (emphasis added) require Sharma to move to Raytown. At that point, he has 12 months to make the relocation. Costs involved in the move are to be paid by the City of Raytown. RETRO-ACTIVE PAY: The contract sets the term of Sharma’s service to begin with a salary of $99,857 retroactively set back to when he took the position of “interim” City Administrator on January 18, 2008. WAIVER OF TERM OF SERVICE FOR VACATION TIME: As a new city employee Sharma would be eligible for two weeks of paid vacation at the beginning of his term of employment. The contract calls for Sharma to begin his term of service with credit for five years of service to the city. This allows him to take four weeks of paid vacation instead of two. He would receive all other benefits for holidays and sick time enjoyed by all city employees. City employees receive 10 holidays a year and 12 days a year for sick leave. ONE YEAR’S SALARY UPON TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT: Provided that the city releases Sharma from his contract without cause, he will be entitled to one year’s worth of salary upon termination. CELL PHONE AND LAPTOP COMPUTER: Unlimited cell phone and the use of a laptop computer are also included in the package. As the interim City Administrator, Mahesh Sharma has done an acceptable job of managing the day to day operation of city hall. He has instituted some changes in city policy (i.e., street lights in the budget, re-establishing a street improvement program) that are laudable and worthy of mention. He has also taken steps – whether you agree with them or not – setting goals to complete projects that were begun by the previous administration but never finished. There are still problems at City Hall that need fixing – and often times, the wait for those changes have been agonizingly slow. This year’s city budget, which was Sharma’s first budget for the city, left way too many unanswered questions as to future planned expenditures. (see last week's column for more details) Furthermore, there are concerns among many of the Board of Aldermen regarding personnel issues that have yet to be resolved. There is little doubt that the contract will win approval by the majority of the votes on the Board of Aldermen. But the removal of the residency requirement, the one year “golden parachute”, the retroactive pay, and not requiring terms of services for vacation time, are way over the top for a city in Raytown’s precarious economic condition. I support hiring Mr. Sharma for the position. But this contract is not in the best interest of the taxpayers in Raytown. There will at least one vote calling for a better deal for Raytown.