KENNEWICK — The Kennewick City Council stalled Tuesday on approving an employment contract for City Manager Marie Mosley.
Councilmen Bob Parks, Don Britain and John Hubbard refused to support the contract offering Mosley $136,700 a year, plus another $14,000 in performance-based pay over the next 33 months.
The contract also offers her a chance at up to $10,000 annually in bonus cash if she can achieve specified short- and long-term objectives during the next two years.
"The mayor and I spent a lot of time on this," said Sharon Brown, mayor pro tem, in trying to persuade Parks, Britain and Hubbard to accept the contract terms.
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But Brown's motion authorizing mayor Steve Young to sign the contract withered when the three councilmen announced before the vote they wouldn't go along.
"A bonus has no place in government," Hubbard told the Herald after the meeting.
Britain said he, too, didn't like the offer of a bonus of up to $10,000 a year. He also rejected having nothing less than a six-month severance pay for involuntary termination and a provision allowing Mosley sole discretion on taking comp time.
Parks told the council he thought Mosley was the best city manager he had worked with or seen in the Tri-Cities in the past decade, but he could not condone the $10,000 bonuses and the six-month severance package offered during the first five years of employment for involuntary termination.
Young told Parks the contract was designed to get away from automatic pay increases, such as cost-of-living raises.
"We want this to be performance-based. If you don't deliver, you don't get paid for it," Young said.
But Parks held fast, responding with: "This is a public service position."
Young reminded the council that the vote on Mosley's employment contract package was a critical decision.
"This is one of the most important votes of this council in a long time," he said.
But Hubbard insisted that the contract send the right message to citizens.
"We're in a time when we need to be frugal. (Offering a bonus of up to) $10,000 is the wrong message for taxpayers. We need to show we are concerned about the cost of government," Hubbard said.
"I wish this came to us as a workshop item," Britain said.
With Councilman Bob Olson absent, the odds were against Young and Brown, so Councilman Paul Parish made a pre-emptive motion to postpone the decision until after the council could air concerns in a workshop.
Terry Walsh, director of community and employee relations, said the proposed contract reflected efforts to be consistent in comparison with other similarly sized cities.
"We didn't pick these numbers out of thin air," Walsh said.
Brown noted that the contract proposed for Mosley was less than what Yakima pays its city manager, and below what many other city managers in the state receive.
And Mosley, speaking not for herself, but about other city staff, said retaining good people can require that "we compensate them fairly."