Champaign council picks David for city manager job

Champaign council picks David for city manager job

CHAMPAIGN — With the unanimous support of the city council on Tuesday night — but not a unanimous vote — officials approved Assistant City Manager Dorothy David's contract to become Champaign's next chief administrator.

The 8-1 vote made David's appointment official, and she will replace City Manager Steve Carter when he retires on March 29. Council members said it was clear she was the best choice for the job even though city officials never sought applications from non-city employees.

"Dorothy has worked for the city of Champaign for 18 years," said council member Tom Bruno. "We know her well, and she knows us well. She knows the current council; she knows those of you out in the audience; she knows the community."

Bruno said David gives him "a very high degree of comfort level" that no outsider could replicate.

"We don't have to explain to her the significant events that have shaped our history over the past 20 years," Bruno said.

David thanked the city council and said she was humbled to get its support.

"Your confidence in me means a great deal, and I can't express to you enough how committed I am to do everything in my power to do this job well," David said.

She said Champaign has been her home, and she understands that everything the city council not only affects her job, but it also affects her personal life.

"It affects my children and my neighbors and my friends," David said.

The lone dissenting vote came from Deborah Frank Feinen, who said David is "the perfect choice" for the job. But Feinen has a philosophical problem with David's contract.

That problem, Feinen said, is contained in Section 4, which provides that David would continue to receive up to 52 weeks of pay and benefits if she were terminated "without cause."

"I understand that being a city manager is a huge risk, and you can get a completely crazy council that would terminate you for no reason, and that you should be protected," Feinen said.

But Feinen, a former Champaign County Board member, said she was there when the board had to fire a county official. That official was under a similar contract to David's, and taxpayers paid nearly a full year's salary to that person after being terminated.

"Because of that history for me, I just can't support it," Feinen said.

But that does not affect her enthusiasm for David's hiring, she said.

"I have no reason to believe that Section 4 will ever come to pass," Feinen said.

David will make a base salary of $173,000, which is about $5,000 less than Carter's current base salary. Carter will be retiring after 28 years as Champaign city manager.

David was chosen for the job after city officials opened the application process only to city employees for one week. They had planned to accept external applications, but left themselves the option of closing their search if they were satisfied with the internal applications.

David was the lone internal applicant, and the city council ended its search.

City council members also chose to forgo hiring a potentially expensive search firm to recruit job candidates. Mayor Don Gerard said that was the right choice.

"I would like to commend this council on really cutting to the chase, hiring the best person," Gerard said.

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rsp wrote on December 18, 2012 at 9:12 pm

David will make a base salary of $173,000, which is about $5,000 less than Carter's current base salary. Carter will be retiring after 28 years as Champaign city manager.

Isn't that a little high for starting pay? Why is everyone's starting pay just under or over the prior person's pay? I know, "if we want to get good people we have to pay for them..." Use to have people work up to making to top pay. 

SaintClarence27 wrote on December 19, 2012 at 7:12 am

Given the requirements posted for the job, I don't think that's unreasonable. This is less than a lot of professors make.

rsp wrote on December 19, 2012 at 7:12 am

She's replacing someone who was there 28 years. He worked up to that kind of pay by his experience. Her first day she's only $5000 below his ending salary. Her first raise will put her on par with him if not over. But there's no comparison. How much a professor makes is irrelevant. 

SaintClarence27 wrote on December 19, 2012 at 10:12 am

Are you suggesting she has no experience?

rsp wrote on December 19, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Has she ever been a city manager? I'm not saying she's not qualified. I'm frustrated that there is this incessant increase in salaries just because a new person was hired. I'll lay odds they will tell you they had to do it to keep her here. Is there any evidence she was considering going anyplace else? There never is. Look what the UI did with the football coach. Same idea, had to pay so much to get the "best coach". Why do you think all of those coaches make so much?  It's not about the game on the field so much as the one before the hire. 

C in Champaign wrote on December 19, 2012 at 11:12 am

I have no issue with the amount of pay. I believe it is probably in line, and given her experience and background is a good choice. However, what I find interesting is that then candidate, now Mayor Gerard was extremely vocal about how he believed the salaries of Champaign staff members were outragously high, specifically calling out the pay of Steve Carter. And if I recall corectly, even made some pretty snide comments about certain staff member's income in council meetings prior to his being elected. Seems that Mayor Gerard has a little less of a tone than Candidate Gerard had about the issue.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving wrote on December 19, 2012 at 11:12 am

It's not what you know, it's who you know.

That salary is above the salary of the Governor of the State of Illinois, for reference.  It's pretty close to what Congressmen make and not too far below what most members of the Presidential Cabinet make.

They reviewed one application, sought nothing outside the city, and made their decision?

Guess it's on par with the patronage we come to expect in Champaign.

Correct me if I'm wrong, isn't a city council member married to one of the bigger recipients of TIF money in Champaign too?

SaintClarence27 wrote on December 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm

But you're either wrong or lying, because it's BELOW the salary of the Governor of the State of Illinois (over $179K). And let's not forget that the Governor also gets housing paid for. Similarly, pensions and benefits for the several you mention are significantly above the City of Champaign.

Did you want them to spend the taxpayer money for a nationwide search? I didn't.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving wrote on December 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Why is it that when everybody else on the planet posts a job opening, they just put an ad in the paper or on monster.com put when government posts a job, we need to pay a consultant $250,000 to do it?

Seriously, cut the crap and stop cheerleading the endless reaming of the taxpayers to fund a rising aristocratic class unaccountable to the voters.

SaintClarence27 wrote on December 19, 2012 at 2:12 pm

But did you lie above, or were you just wrong?

Mothers Against Drunk Driving wrote on December 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm

According to public records, Quinn's takehome pay was only $172k last year (he took 2 weeks furlough if I recall).  Ok, you got me on Congressmen, they make $174k now.  The rectum-clinching horror that she makes just under a Congressman.  They should give her an immediate 10% raise.

In fact, let's just preemptively hike property taxes again.  Maybe we can come up with a new fee or three to levy.  As a taxpayer, we should all feel privileged we have the opportunity to support the lavish lifestyle of the 1% among the government aristocrats.

I'm going to go get a second job, just so I can pay more!  Yeah!  I'll close all my kids 527 accounts while I'm at it!

SaintClarence27 wrote on December 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Where are you getting this lie? http://www.state.il.us/budget/fy2013/fy13operatingbudget.pdf

Last year he made 177,500 and is scheduled to make 179,100 next year. So what are you claiming? Again, what about all of the perks?

Finally, do you really think her salary comes from property taxes or fees? Or that her salary puts her anywhere near the top 1%? Really? She's probably not even in the %1 for C-U.

The reality is that she makes roughly what would be expected for someone in her position for a town of this size. You can dislike it all you want, but it's not out of proportion at all.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving wrote on December 19, 2012 at 4:12 pm

You do know the difference between a budget and an actual expenditure, don't you?

Let me break it down, even though he budgeted that amount for salary, he actually took less, as did all state elected officials, by taking "furloughs".  The data I'm using ultimately comes from the Comptroller, the office that actually wrote the check.

But either way, it's in that neighborhood and it's way too high.

That salary puts her in the top 5% nationally. I could go through the exercise for the state and the city, but math isn't the point here.

The point is that it is absurd we are guaranteeing and upper-class lifestyle for a city manager of a town 81,000 or so people.  The median income is about $32,000.  22% of the city residents live under the poverty line.  And yes, her salary does come from property taxes and fees.  Where did you think it comes from? The Easter Bunny?  Does Steve Carter have a money tree no one knows about?

The reality is, that in the past 40 years, we've created an army of bureaucratic paper pushers who do little but collect 6 figure salaries.  Many of these jobs simply didn't exist even a generation ago.  Yet somehow the entire fabric of society will come crashing down unless we have these upper-class unaccountable "public" servants organizing society for us...

And they can't even be bothered to post the job in the News-Gazette to take outside applications.

236 years was a great run, looks like we're back to the House of Lords.

SaintClarence27 wrote on December 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Holy non-sequiturs, Batman. 

With regard to the Governor: 

I'd need to see a link to the page in the comptroller's office to be sure, but even counting your claim of furloughs, are you counting the use of automobile, helicopter, plane, the travel allowance, and the provision of a residence? The two simply aren't comparable.

My point was that sales tax was the single largest revenue source, not property taxes and fees.

Regarding the upper-class lifestyle, I don't think that barely cracking the top 5% of earners nationally (if at all - it's close) is all that unreasonable for the single most relied upon person in government. Significant experience and education is a necessity, and how many employees does the City Manager manage? Regarding the actual position - it's existed for a long time - more than a generation. And just because you personally don't care to see what people do does not mean they aren't doing anything. The ad hominem attacks of "paper-pusher," etc., do nothing to advance your argument. These employees are required - many times to meet the demands of transparency by the public and municipal laws. That's not a bad thing.

SaintClarence27 wrote on December 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm

As a comparison, the City of Bloomington paid their city manager $154,569 last year (which is comparable to the City of Champaign's assistant city manager position in duties and hierarchy. For Normal it's $163,307. The city of Peoria (which has a council/city manager system like Champaign) has city manager salary of over $190K, with a similar severance package as part of the contract. Joliet, which also has a similar system to ours pays $196K. He additionally gets $5,700 for deferred compensation retirement plan, $28,000 for the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, $6,000 car allowance, $4,000 continuing education, and $17,000 for insurance, with a potential severance upwards of $350K.

In short, this isn't a bad deal.

pattsi wrote on December 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm

"The lone dissenting vote came from Deborah Frank Feinen, who said David is "the perfect choice" for the job. But Feinen has a philosophical problem with David's contract.

That problem, Feinen said, is contained in Section 4, which provides that David would continue to receive up to 52 weeks of pay and benefits if she were terminated "without cause."

"I understand that being a city manager is a huge risk, and you can get a completely crazy council that would terminate you for no reason, and that you should be protected," Feinen said.

But Feinen, a former Champaign County Board member, said she was there when the board had to fire a county official. That official was under a similar contract to David's, and taxpayers paid nearly a full year's salary to that person after being terminated.

"Because of that history for me, I just can't support it," Feinen said.

But that does not affect her enthusiasm for David's hiring, she said.

"I have no reason to believe that Section 4 will ever come to pass," Feinen said."

The above quote contributed to Ms. Feinen has merit. Unfortunately, the practice when salaries are proposed and/or discussed and then approved, rarely is included in the presented cost is the long term cost to the entity proposing a salary of health insurance, retirement contributions, retirement payouts, etc. These missing pieces of information has been brought up several times during county board meetings as we have approved newly negotiated contracts. They have not been provided. Now a fellow board member has requested that this information been as routine as the salary amount.The reason for mentioning this has to do with decisions previous boards have made concerning salaries, retirement payouts that are now and in the future costing the county tremendous amounts of taxpayer monies and a very large contributing factor to the tight county budget.

mstrom wrote on December 19, 2012 at 9:12 pm
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Ms. David is an excellent choice for City Manager.  My neighbors and I worked with Neighborhood Services when she ran that department and experienced excellent service.  She is has a great resume', education and experience.  Like it or not we have to pay competitive rates to keep a quality person like this--you get what you pay for.  I don't like it either, but it is kind of like the job of a football coach.  High risk for the coach.  Steve Carter has been a very good City Manager for Champaign, but his tenure is uncommon amongst his peers.  I have a long time friend who is coming up on retirement and he is a City Manager.  He is a good City manager, but he has been at 5 different towns over the years.  You get a new mayor or a Council member or two that don't like you and your out of a job. 

Besides, I wonder if people would be making these comments if the was the new City Manager was a man.  Just saying.

Time will tell, but I think she will make an excellent City Manager and we will be glad we kept her here. 

rsp wrote on December 20, 2012 at 7:12 am

My comments have nothing to do with whether or not she's qualified or the fact that she's a women. Carter's salary was in part based on how long he held that position. 28 years. Her salary is just below his, based on what? His salary? The usual "what do the other cities around us pay"? How soon till we can't afford the people working for us or is that even considered. People use to be paid for their longevity, how much they contributed. Now it's a race to the top.  

SaintClarence27 wrote on December 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm

I'm guessing budgetary concerns were considered. As for the "how much they contributed," since she's essentially the top ranking person at the city and been at the city for a long time, I don't think that changes the analysis.

read the DI wrote on December 20, 2012 at 8:12 am

I can't believe I'm saying this, but Debbie Frank is right: Writing in a one-year payout for termination clause is an unbelievable Christmas gift. Champaign should take a stand and stop giving already highly paid employees such unwarranted contractual perks.

cpiusweibel wrote on December 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Here are couple of corrections to the above report/comments.

1.  The County employee that Ms. Feinen was referring to was appointed and therefore had no contract.  Any payout that the employee received was negotiated at the time of termination and was not a contractual obligation.

2.  Retirement payouts have had minimal impact on the County budget.  Retirement funds for the County are completely met through the contributions to the IMRF, which unlike other pension funds, is considered to be fully funded. The current tight budget is the result of recent losses of annual revenue of over $2.3 million.

 

rsp wrote on December 21, 2012 at 6:12 am

So what you're saying is that you guys volunteered to give a years salary to someone that you were under no obligation to do?

mstrom wrote on December 21, 2012 at 9:12 am
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Ms. David will be a great City Manager and I am glad we have retained her services.  Look at the overall community health and fiscal condition of the City of Champaign compared to other communities--we are doing better and it is in no small part because of the leadership of our Council and City Manager.  She will continue the leadership that will keep us heading in that direction.

Champaignite wrote on December 21, 2012 at 11:12 am

I have no numbers to back this up, but I would suggest that her salary is completely in line with that of the CEO of a similarly-sized company.  I am guessing that the City has 250 or more employees and a large operating budget.  Would a salary in the $170's really be out of line in the private sector for such a position?  I highly doubt it; yet, the perception of some is that if you do the same work for the government, then you should be paid far less than doing similar work for a private company.  I don't really understand that mentality.  For the record, I do not know the soon-to-be city manager, nor do I work for the government before that suggestion is made.

On another, but similar, note, I recognize the comments about her salary being fairly close to her predessessor and the idea that she should be paid based on her own experience; yet, she has worked for the city for several years so she's not some recent college grad who is just starting the job or someone coming from another employer or someone working in another career.  I would hope that with her years on the job that she would get a decent raise when she gets a promotion just as most people would expect. It's not like she wasn't a) already working for the City; and b)  she has been working in the same field. 

mstrom wrote on December 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm
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Speaking of crocks, how about over paid CPA's who provide no productive purpose other than to serve as minions for the IRS.  Sorry, couldn't help myself.  I believe that everyone has value and can contribute in a positive way to our society.  Some people love to label others as if they are some kind of worthless sub-class.  I guess this makes them feel superior and a part of the righteous few deserving folk.  Good luck and God bless you.

EL YATIRI wrote on December 23, 2012 at 9:12 am
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One government for Champaign and Urbana makes so much sense.  This manager could manage both cities for that pay.

Why do we need duplicate governments for 2 small cities when one would be more efficient?

GOP Dance Party wrote on December 23, 2012 at 7:12 pm

I, for one, would support the armed occupation of Urbana to bring those hippies under Champaign rule. Shouldn't take too long because those white-flag waving surrender monkies hate guns. 

mstrom wrote on December 23, 2012 at 9:12 pm
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Look Aggie, you have someone of like mind to dance with.

Apparently, you missed the point.  My statement about pin headed CPAss (oops there goes my spelling again), is just as stupid as your statement about Ms David.  

At least the comment about combining governments is a constructive comment.  An idea that adds value to the conversation, unlike your nasty insults of people that you don't even know.

CPAs are a dime a dozen, a good one is hard to find.  Same can be said for City Managers.  Only time will tell for both of you.

God bless you and Merry Christmas Mr. Aggie.

Hey, wasn't Scrooge a CPA?

mstrom wrote on December 24, 2012 at 11:12 am
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I'm a feeble idiot and the new city manager is a pig at the trough.  Do you talk to people this way in person, or just in the blogosphere?.  I wish we were all as gifted and smart as you Aggie.  I am no more a liberal than I am the man in the moon.  I just don't like it when people make hateful comments about people they don't even know.  My dealing with Ms. David led me to believe that she is a caring and dedicated public servant.  Apparently you have some pipeline to the truth that the rest of us don't have.  My experience has been that the only form of government in Illinois that has any level of accountability is local government.  

You know what, you have convinced me.... let's you and me and the rest of the boys, bust down the doors to the City Building and flog all of the public employees in the town square and put them in sharecropper huts.  While we are at it, let's tell the Public Works folks to stay at home during the coming storm--after all, the snow will melt eventually--we don't need those public trough piggies plowing our streets.  Let's send the Police home too--we can shoot our way out of anything.  Fire, who needs them either, we have insurance.  Thanks for enlighting me.

As for CPAs.  I think they contribute a great deal to the benefit of society.  Especially at my house, I've been married to one for many years.  CPAs do great work to forward private enterprise--they also do an enormous amount of work for charitable organizations and yes they work under contract to audit state and local government agencies--a great form of accountabiliy.   Note: the City of Champaign has a triple AAA bond rating--just looked it up--while the State of Illinois is on Par with a Third World Country-worst in the nation.

Thanks for the great service you and the other CPAs provide to our society.  God bless you Aggie and have a Merry Christmas.  I know you mean well.

mstrom wrote on December 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm
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Small as a peanut,
Big as a giant,
We're all the same size
When we turn off the light.

Rich as a sultan,
Poor as a mite,
We're all worth the same
When we turn off the light.

Red, black or orange,
Yellow or white,
We all look the same
When we turn off the light.

So maybe the way,
To make everything right
Is for god to just reach out
And turn off the light!”
 


-S.S.