Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts defended her decision to have the City Council vote Monday on a new temporary contract for City Manager Ron Carlee without informing the public first by placing it on the agenda.
Toward the end of Monday’s council meeting, Roberts announced the city had an agreement to keep Carlee through the budget season this spring and possibly longer. She then asked that council members approve the deal, which they did in a 10-2 vote.
The new contract increases Carlee’s pay significantly. His base salary jumps by 25 percent, and his total compensation increases by more than 20 percent.
The agreement also gives Carlee a bonus payment of $25,000 if he stays through June 30.
In all, Carlee’s new deal calls for him to be paid $112,810 in total compensation for working in April, May and June.
His old contract – which expires March 31 – would have paid him $72,498 for working three months.
When the City Council approves new compensation for the manager and attorney, the city has usually placed the item on an agenda. That allows for greater scrutiny of any decision.
When asked about her decision Wednesday, Roberts said she couldn’t comment because “it’s a personnel matter.”
The council could have voted on the contract at three meetings that have been scheduled before March 31, when Carlee’s contract expires.
Roberts said Wednesday that it was important to let staff know as soon as possible that Carlee would remain as manager for three months, in order to give city employees stability.
The city, however, had announced two weeks ago that a tentative decision had been reached to keep Carlee temporarily.
When he came to Charlotte in April 2013, Carlee signed a three-year contract.
As the contract drew to a close, council members were divided on whether Carlee should be given a new deal. Facing an uncertain future, Carlee told council members Feb. 24 that he would not seek a new extension.
Since then, the council decided it would make sense for the manager to remain on the job, at least until a new budget is passed.
But the city then found itself in an unusual situation of paying Carlee more money to stay, even though council members had previously been divided on whether the manager should stay at all.
“We wanted to show we valued his experience,” Roberts said.
She also said she believes he is underpaid, compared with managers at similar-sized cities.
It’s possible Carlee could remain manager past June 30. The new contract makes Carlee an “at-will” employee, meaning he would remain manager until he steps down or the council terminates him.
Republican Kenny Smith and Democrat Claire Fallon voted against the contract Monday. Both said they didn’t think the extra money was justified.