On Tuesday, the Antioch City Council decided to go back into negotiations with City Manager Ron Bernal after concerns were expressed by Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe over a $20,000 raise.
While Thorpe did not elaborate on his concerns, he expressed desire and hoped for support to go back to closed session and bring it back at a future meeting saying there were elements missing that should be addressed.
“I would like to bring this back at a later date to closed session, so we can address some concerns I have,” said Thorpe.
According to the agenda item, the Council was being recommended to approve a resolution to approving the First Amendment to the Employment Agreement with Bernal.
Bernal is currently making $230,000 after being hired on May 9, 2017. The employment agreement on Tuesday would increase his annual salary to $250,000–a one year contract extension through May 9, 2019. This comes following a closed session meeting on May 8, 2018 following his performance evaluation.
The following list of City Managers were used as part of the salary survey:
- $281,507 – Richmond
- $274,104 – Concord
- $257,760 – Pittsburg
- $254,000 – Walnut Creek
- $251,075 – Brentwood
- $250,000 – Antioch (proposed)
- $239,460 – Oakley
Councilman Tony Tiscareno asked since they already had an initial negotiation, if they could discuss some of it today in open session so they know what they would be discussion in closed session before he would vote on the item.
Legal stated that was at the council’s pleasure saying they could discuss them now or privately first, but realize it had to come back into a public setting based on state law.
“For me to decide how to vote on this, I’d like to know what the concern is, I don’t know if that is something Mayor Pro Tem is willing to do so or not but I’ll put it out to him in that respect” stated Tiscareno.
Mayor Sean Wright called it a surprise to him.
“I came here to vote no on the resolution this evening. I believe that the 9% raise from my standpoint was too high and Ron Bernal is doing a phenomenal job, I think he is doing a fine job and I am plenty happy with the job he is doing but I disagree with the increase,” said Wright. “This was a surprise to me, I didn’t know this was happening and I had nothing to do with it.”
Tisacreno agreed saying it was a surprise and asked Thorpe to elaborate on his concerns.
Thorpe explained he believed there were some elements that tied to incentives and tied to a salary schedule that were missing elements saying he believed they could address it quickly and come back to this process again.
“It’s not going to change anything in what we are trying to accomplish,” said Thorpe. “There are retroactive processes that exist so I don’t think the end result is going to be displeasurable to any of us. I think we will all vote 5-0 in the long run if we address some of the things that I think are important.”
Tiscareno then stated he had no problem with this request because the City Manager did ask for this, but rather they were trying to do what is best for the city to try and keep talent here.
The council then voted 5-0 to bring the contract negotiations back to closed session.
Bernal was hired last March to replace Steve Duran who had been hired in 2013.