Residency: Should City Managers Live in the City They Serve?

Most city managers are required to live in the city in which they work. In the world of the new normal, however, spouses are reluctant to relocate farther away from their jobs, children are reluctant to change schools, and houses can be difficult to sell. In addition, some cities have housing prices that exceed city salaries.

Manteca, California (population 67,096): Manteca’s next city manager will have to live within 30 miles of the city. That’s the language in a proposed revision to a city ordinance governing the residency requirement for the city manager. And instead of saying they have to do so within a reasonable time as the current wording does, the proposed language gives them six months to comply. Meeting that requirement won’t be a problem for Steve Pinkerton’s replacement. Assistant City Manager Karen McLaughlin is expected to have a five-year contract to serve as city manager approved at the same meeting Tuesday the ordinance change is being considered. The current language does require the city manager to live in Manteca but it allows for a murky “reasonable time” to accomplish that goal. Pinkerton never did move to Manteca. Instead he remained at his Brookside home in Stockton. Pinkerton, who is now the city manager for Davis, is buying a house in that community to comply with Davis’ requirement that the city manager reside within municipal limits. McLaughlin has said over the years that she “lives in Manteca and sleeps in Modesto.” She lives in the northern part of Modesto near Kaiser hospital within 30 miles of Manteca. McLaughlin made it clear to her five bosses on the council that she was not going to be moving to Manteca. She indicated that she is nearing retirement and that selling her house would result in a significant loss. Pinkerton, when pressed after critics started questioning when he was going to move to Manteca about two years ago, noted the housing market prices made it difficult to do so in terms of what he could get for his current home. That, however, wasn’t a problem when making the decision to buy in Davis. Under the contract before the council Tuesday McLaughlin will earn $144,690 in pay prior to taxes. That is some $20,000 less than Pinkerton was making. The contracts for both reflect higher rates of pay but that was before compensation reductions of 23.4 percent are factored into the equation. The compensation reductions are part of a citywide across-the-board cut in pay to balance the city budget and to eliminate the structured deficit. Read more at the Manteca Bulletin.


Augusta–Richmond County, Georgia (population 195,844): City Administrator Fred Russell and city bean counters are beginning work on next year’s budget, holding hearings with department heads, but there is some unfinished business in this year’s budget…the 40 or some raises he approved, and now an internal audit report is finding problems with some of those raises. The report found that, in some cases, Russell far exceeded his authority to grant raises up to 15 percent. Meanwhile, the raises have prompted Commissioners Alvin Mason and Bill Lockett to call for across-the-board raises for all employees, a three percent increase would cost about $3 million…and almost $5 million for a five percent raise. Also on the agenda, Commissioner Alvin Mason is renewing his call to terminate Fred Russell. Read more at

De Soto County, Mississippi (population 161,252): With little debate, the DeSoto Board of Supervisors on Tuesday in a 3-2 vote approved a lean $114 million county budget with no raises for county workers. “We’re happy about a budget that doesn’t increase the tax burden on the citizens,” County Administrator Michael Garriga said of the blueprint for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. “It also maintains services at the current level.” The budget forecasts total expenditures of $114,163,950, just $1,092,286 or less than 1 percent more than fiscal 2011’s $113,071,664. Total anticipated revenues are $78,409,508, with beginning cash at $64,669,000. Total ending cash would be $28,914,558. Read more at The Commercial Appeal.

Cape Coral, Florida (population 154,305): An 8 percent pay cut for police and firefighters could cover most of the $4 million gap between spending and income in the next city budget, City Manager Gary King said this morning during a Cape Coral City Council budget workshop. The city and the two unions are deadlocked in their negotiations over pay. An impasse has been declared. Mayor John Sullivan also was cautioned about how he proceeds with his intent to use his line item veto on the police and fire department budgets by the city attorney. Read more on

Columbia, Missouri (population 108,500): City Manager Mike Matthes reccommended a pay raise for city employees Monday night as part of his proposed budget for fiscal year 2012. The city council discussed this along with the 1.3 percent budget cuts in the proposal. Matthes suggests a 25 cent an hour raise for city workers, who haven’t gotten a raise in two years. Matthes said the pay raise is to support higher performance among employees. The council must cut $2.3 million of its budget. It is also considering increasing service rates and making cuts to the bus system. During the public hearing, local residents spoke out mostly against the rate hikes and changes to transit. Council members said they would take their opinions into consideration as they continue discussing the cuts. Matthes said checks will start to bounce in July if no changes are made. Read more on

Manteca, California (population 67,096): Assistant City Manager Karen McLaughlin will earn $144,690 in pay prior to taxes when she becomes City Manager. That is some $20,000 less than her predecessor was making. The contracts for both reflect higher rates of pay but that was before compensation reductions of 23.4 percent are factored into the equation. The compensation reductions are part of a citywide across-the-board cut in pay to balance the city budget and to eliminate the structured deficit. Read more at the Manteca Bulletin.

Louisville, Colorado (population 18,376): The City Council gave City Manager Malcolm Fleming a 3.9 percent raise Tuesday night, bumping his annual pay from $153,088 to $159,016. Fleming, who started with the city four years ago at a salary of $145,000, remains the third highest-paid municipal manager in Boulder County. Fleming, who declined a pay raise last year, will continue to receive a $525 monthly car allowance. Read more at the Daily Camera.

Lake Wales, Florida (population 13,076): All the city’s 178 city employees kept their jobs, which is what commissioners wanted. However, there is no cost-of-living adjustment this year and the city cut payroll costs by 3 percent — $247,442 — by requiring city employees to take 10 unpaid days off. Lake Wales hasn’t had an assistant city manager position for at least two years. All those duties are done by the city manager and department heads. Several departments shifted and traded job duties to cut vacant positions. Read more at

Mulberry, Florida (population 3,933): City commissioners gave Mulberry City Manager Frank Satchel Jr. an 11 percent raise Tuesday night, totaling $7,000 annually. The proposed city budget has 2.5 percent average raises for the city’s rank-and-file workers. Commissioners considered a formal evaluation for Satchel, but decided it wasn’t necessary. Satchel told commissioners he didn’t think he needed a formal evaluation. Satchel was appointed city manager two years ago after a succession of managers left amid controversy. He had been a city commissioner for 18 years in the past and had spent his career in the Polk County school system. Satchel also receives a monthly car allowance totaling $400. The proposed 2011-12 budget, which commissioners will consider at a meeting next week, includes about $20,000 collectively for the city’s employees, said Finance Director Blake Rane. That will allow for some of the city’s estimated 40 employees to receive merit raises ranging from 2 percent to 3 percent. Commissioners said Tuesday they weren’t concerned about finding $7,000 in the budget to boost Satchel’s salary. Scrocca said Satchel, who holds a doctorate in public administration, is worth more than the city is paying him, and Mulberry should be grateful he’s willing to work for what the city can pay. Read more on