Eric Anderson isn’t Tacoma’s city manager anymore, but he’ll be paid as if he were working for another year.
Anderson’s contract ran out Friday – a contract that provided him with a year’s pay “should the council not extend this agreement.”
The City Council didn’t extend it, triggering the extra year’s salary of $235,373. Add the vacation time he accumulated – about 26 days, or $23,924 – and two days of holiday pay, and Anderson will take just more than $261,000 out the door with him, according to records released Monday to The News Tribune.
“The concept of something like that is: You can find yourself out of work suddenly without warning,” Councilman Joe Lonergan said.
Case in point, he said: Anderson’s abrupt dismissal last week, which Lonergan opposed and which he says might require the council to give even more assurances to the next manager.
But Councilman Ryan Mello said he would try to cut a different kind of deal with whomever is hired next.
“I think a year is a bit much, especially at that pay scale,” said Mello, who voted to cut ties with Anderson in last week’s 6-2 vote. “I don’t think it sits well with very many taxpayers.”
He sees three to six months as more reasonable – and preferably without a clause that guarantees the severance pay even after a contract runs out.
“I personally don’t support that concept. I feel that at the conclusion of the contract, you’re at the conclusion of the contract,” Mello said.
Other South Sound city managers have received severance pay, though in some recent cases not as much.
In 2009, Federal Way agreed to pay fired City Manager Neal Beets through the end of his contract plus six months’ severance pay. In 2010, Puyallup officials agreed to pay City Manager Gary McLean eight months’ salary, even though he resigned and wasn’t owed anything under his contract.
Some Tacoma council members pointed to the Port of Tacoma, where director Tim Farrell left in 2009 with a severance package larger than his annual salary. That deal required him to stay available for consultation on port business during five months of paid leave.
Hired from Des Moines, Iowa, in 2005, Anderson negotiated a contract with Tacoma that called for 18 months of severance pay. It was later lowered to a year to coincide with a 17 percent pay raise for Anderson – a raise he gave up for a year but accepted in 2010.
Lonergan said six months might be a more appropriate deal. But he said even Anderson’s original deal wasn’t loaded with the “lavish perks” that previous city managers received.
When Anderson was hired, some wanted to change Tacoma to a strong-mayor system. That would have cost Anderson his job if it had succeeded.
It made the job less attractive to candidates, said Councilman Jake Fey, who voted to dismiss Anderson.
Fey, Mello and Lonergan weren’t part of the council that hired Anderson.
Jordan Schrader: 253-597-8876