DALLAS –– The Dallas City Council on Wednesday approved a $400,000 annual salary for incoming City Manager A.C. Gonzalez, an amount that’s nearly $100,000 more than what his predecessor made.
Gonzalez made $250,000 a year while serving in the interim, which he began in June following the retirement of Mary Suhm, who was city manager for the past eight years. When Suhm retired, she was making $305,000 annually.
According to the contract, any increase in salary or benefits would follow an annual performance review by the City Council after a report from a committee appointed by the mayor. A 2/3rds majority of the City Council is required for his ouster, at which point he’ll be paid an amount equivalent to 130 work days as severance. If he is fired due to a felony, he is not eligible for severance.
The City Council voted 12-2 in support of the contract, with councilmembers Rick Callahan and Adam Medrano voting against.
Supporters argued that city managers are typically paid much less than what many area CEOs make in the private sector. Councilman Dwaine Caraway said $400,000 was perhaps not even enough for the role. He compared determining a salary to what successful sports teams pay its players: “Look at the New York Yankees. They went after the best players. And you’ve got to pay the best players,” he said.
“This is something that we have a decision to make on behalf of this city that’s going to be a part of history for the next 20, 30, 40, 50 and 100 years,” Caraway continued. “We can either play ball or we can sit on the sideline. We’re looking for a championship.”
Councilman Sheffie Kadane echoed the support, saying the salary represents a small amount compared to the investments Gonzalez will bring into Dallas.
“The amount we’ve given you is a small amount compared to what you’ll bring the city,” he said. “You’ll be bringing millions and even billions into our city so we’ve hired a man for, what I believe, is a small amount to bring in compared to what you’ll bring to us.”
Others weren’t so kind. Although only two voted against, some supporters said they felt the salary was too high. Councilwoman Sandy Greyson, who ultimately voted for Gonzalez’s contract, said she believed the salary increase is “too big a jump.”
“I’m very reluctant to support that,” she said, adding that her opinion on the salary does not sway her support of Gonzalez as city manager.
Councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill also expressed concern that the salary was bloated. She said she understood that the committee that recommended the salary may have done comparitive analyses, but that Gonzalez' salary should "stand on its own bottom."
"I believe that $400,000 is too high. I believe that the salary should have been set at no higher than 350 and I believe 350 is a bit on the high side," she said. Jones Hill also voted in support of the contract.
Councilman Adam Medrano was one of two dissenting votes. He said the salary was “a bit too high” and said he wished the 2/3rds majority required to fire the city manager was reduced to a simple majority.
After the vote, Gonzalez had few words: "On to the next level," he said.
Gonzalez, 62, is the city’s 15th city manager and is a 15-year veteran of Dallas City Hall. He will oversee a budget of nearly $3 billion and 13,000 employees. Gonzalez will also appear on Inside Texas Politics on News 8 Sunday at 9 a.m.
News 8's Josh Davis contributed to this report