The Dallas City Council sealed the deal today with newly minted City Manager A.C. Gonzalez, approving his employment contract.
The main thing you need to know about the deal is that it's a big one: $400,000 per year in base salary, plus benefits not enumerated in City Attorney Warren Ernst's brief summary of the document before the City Council.
For those of you keeping track, that's more than the $305,000 made by predecessor Mary Suhm. It's more than the $250,000 Gonzalez made as interim city manager. And it's more than any other city manager in the country.
Phoenix, the largest city with a council-manager form of government, was paying its chief executive $315,000 before he decamped last year for Santa Ana, California, which matched that pay rate.
San Antonio, the nation's second largest council-manager city and the only other with a population larger than Dallas, gives its city manager
$355,000 $375,000. (The city just gave its city manager a raise; her salary will increase to $400,000 next year.)
A handful of council members -- Vonciel Hill, Rick Callahan, Sandy Greyson, and Adam Medrano -- expressed reservations about such a humongous salary.
Hill speculated that the city manager search committee arrived at the $400,000 figure through a comparative analysis of recent city-manager hires, a comparison she referred to as "false."
"I believe that this salary should stand on its own bottom," she said. It should have been $350,000, tops.
Others disagreed. "You've got 15 council members, you've got a huge city -- I think we're the fifth largest city in the country (we're actually ninth), you've got a lot of responsibilities," Councilwoman Carolyn Davis said, defending Gonzalez' salary and pointing out that CEOs in the corporate world make "way way, way way more."
"If we're continuing to talk about a first-class, world-class city, we need to put our money where our mouth is at," she concluded.
Sheffie Kadane said $400,000 is "a small amount [compared] to the amount you'll bring to our city."
But it was up to Dwaine Caraway to offer the fullest defense of the salary hike. He compared Gonzalez to Kobe Bryant in the sense that both are on the top of their respective games. He then compared Dallas to the New York Yankees.
"Look at the New York Yankees: you know the New York Yankees went after the best players, and you have to pay the best players," he said, adding, "We can either play ball or we can sit on the sidelines. We're looking for a championship."
Don't even try to argue with reasoning like that. You can't.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.