Ron Carlee was introduced Monday night as Charlottes new city manager, becoming the first outsider to hold the citys top job in more than 30 years.
Carlee, 59, a former manager of Arlington County, Va., agreed to a three-year contract that will pay him a total of $290,000 a year, a 15 percent increase over his predecessors salary, plus the use of a city car.
This the first time the city has signed a manager to a contract.
After offering Carlee the job on Wednesday night, the City Council and Mayor Anthony Foxx met in closed session Monday to review the terms of the contract. They then voted 11-1 in open session to hire him.
Carlee will start April 1. He will step into the citys top job as Charlotte struggles to retain control of its airport, and as council members and Foxx continue to wrestle with passing a capital improvement program that includes a controversial streetcar.
He had a long tenure in Arlington County and he managed to do that job with virtually no one mad at him, Foxx said of Carlees time in Arlington County, Va., from 2001 to 2009.
Foxx cited Carlees work in redeveloping neighborhoods as well as responding to the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, which included the attack on the Pentagon.
Carlees current job is the chief operating officer of the International City/County Management Association, where, Foxx said, he has been able to travel the world to see how the greatest cities are run.
Carlees three-year contract has an annual salary of $245,000 a year, which wont change for the life of the contract. He also will receive $45,000 annually in deferred pay, pushing his total compensation to $290,000. In addition, he gets the use of a city car for work and personal in-town uses.
During the first 30 months of the contract, he will receive six months of pay if he is fired without cause.
Carlees last published salary was from the International City/County Management Associations 2011 tax return was just under $172,000.
In June, the City Council gave former city manager Curt Walton, who retired in December, a 6 percent raise, increasing his total compensation to just under $258,000. That included a $5,700 car allowance and a $3,600 expense allowance. His deferred compensation for retirement was $7,506.
In Pam Syferts last year as city manager, in 2007, her total compensation was just under $209,000.
Carlees pay package will put him closer in line with the pay of the county manager and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools superintendent. County Manager Harry Jones total compensation last year was $297,795. Superintendent Heath Morrison has a base salary of $288,000, along with the possibility of a 10 percent bonus.
Foxx and council members hired Carlee over Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble and Assistant City Manager Ruffin Hall. Some council members lobbied hard to hire one of the internal candidates Wednesday, but they ultimately fell in line behind Carlee.
Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon was the lone no vote against Carlee.
At the start of the search process, Foxx said he wanted the city to seriously consider an outside candidate. The last outside manager was Wendell White, hired in 1981.
I have said this before, that we have an immensely talented staff, Foxx said. But what we are doing is adding capacity to the organization.
Before Mondays closed session, Foxx asked council members to agree to conduct a study on the merits of shifting control of Charlotte Douglas International Airport to an authority. The General Assembly is considering a bill to strip the citys authority of the airport. The city hasnt been consulted.
None of us have an interest in seeing that jewel broken, Foxx said.
Council members unanimously supported his proposal. Its unclear who would conduct the study.
During a brief question-and-answer period with media, Carlee said the city should strive to keep Charlotte Douglas as a city-run airport.
Theres no reason it cant be like a business in a city agency, he said.
He said he has followed the citys struggles over its capital budget but said he couldnt comment on it without having more information. He also said streetcars are too often seen as an expenditure when cities should look at what they produce in terms of economic development.
He said he has been following Charlotte council meetings for several months.
I have a lot of respect for who you are what you do, he said.
Carlee began his career as an assistant to the mayor in his hometown of Birmingham, Ala. He moved to Arlington County, where he held a variety of jobs before becoming county manager in 2001. He left the county in 2009.
Julie Burch, an assistant city manager, will continue to be interim city manager until Carlee starts in April.