DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) - The new Dallas City Manager is receiving a pay hike, compared to his predecessors. City council members approved a contract for A.C. Gonzalez that includes a base salary of $400,000 a year.
Though the decision last month to hire Gonzalez was unanimous, Wednesday's decision to offer him this contract was not; and it was almost exclusively because of the pay.
The formal, public vote came after more than 90 minutes of final negotiations in executive session. A base pay of $400,000 -- several members thought -- was just too much.
Vonciel Jones Hill, while complimenting Gonzalez's work, nonetheless opposed the money being offered. "I believe that $400,000 is too high. I believe the salary should have been set no higher than $350K and I still think that $350K is a bit on the high side."
Hill also felt the salary comparisons of leaders in similarly sized cities used to come up with the figure were flawed and she was not alone.
"I feel like the starting point of the salary is a bit high," councilman Rick Callahan explained. "I lobbied for a lesser amount with a little bit more room to grow." It was ditto for Adam Medrano, who told the council, "I'm opposed to several terms of the contract as well, one of them being the salary. I think it's a bit too high." Medrano said he wanted a salary based on performance.
Other opponents said the money was their only contract criticism. "I am very reluctant to support that [salary]. But it has no reflection whatsoever on my regard for you," Sandy Greyson told Gonzalez.
Supporters were equally vocal. "You get what you pay for," said Dwaine Caraway, who claimed the salary was less than that of the leaders of DART and the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau. Others, like Carolyn Davis, agreed. "I want to say that I will be supporting the salary increase," she said, while Sheffie Kadane added, "A.C., I believe what we're offering you is a small amount compared to what you will bring to this city."
The ultimate vote of support was overwhelming, but not unanimous –12 to 2, with one council member absent.
By comparison, according to news reports, San Antonio's city manager makes $355,000 a year, but that goes up to $400,000. Former Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm was being paid $305,000 when she retired last year. Up until today, Gonzalez's salary as interim city manager was $250,000.
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