DEL MAR — Council members approved a $630 a month raise for City Manager Scott Huth with a 4-0 vote at the April 1 meeting. Councilman Al Corti was absent.
The boost represents a 4.2 percent increase for Huth, who joined the city in January 2012 with a three-year contract requiring a performance evaluation at least once every six months for the first year and annually thereafter.
After meeting in closed session, a requirement for personnel matters, council members Lee Haydu and Don Mosier were appointed to negotiate the terms with Huth, who came to Del Mar after serving as the public services director for Coronado since 1995.
“Our city manager is basically a 24-hour job, seven days a week,” Haydu said. “Scott even works on vacations because I’ve gotten calls and emails from him.
“Even though we’re a city of 4,000 people, we have got big city problems,” she added. “We’ve got beaches. We’ve got the (Del Mar) Fairgrounds in our city limits. So we have a lot more responsibility for our city manager than some truly small towns of 4,000. I think Scott does deserve this raise.”
Haydu noted Huth joined the city while it was developing a ballot initiative for downtown revitalization and trying to settle a lawsuit with the fairgrounds over expansion plans there.
“He kept pounding until we got what we wanted,” she said. “So he has worked very hard for his first year and gotten us pretty far.”
Under the amended agreement, Huth will receive an annual cost-of-living adjustment based on the county’s consumer price index. The increase cannot exceed 3 percent annually and it will not be reduced by a negative CPI.
The 2013 increase, retroactive to Jan. 1, is $255 a month, or 1.7 percent of his initial annual salary of $180,000.
Huth is also receiving a 2.5 percent merit increase that amounts to $375 a month.
At an annual cost of $1,956, the city will also pay for short- and long-term disability premiums, a benefit often provided for city managers.
Huth will also be allowed to sell back up to 40 hours of leave a year once his leave balance reaches 400 accrued hours.
This was added to the contract because it is “entirely possible that certain years it may be difficult to take the allotted vacation time due to work load and the current situation would lead to the loss of leave,” according to the staff report.
Despite the increases, when compared to other city managers in San Diego, the salary for the position in the county’s smallest city is among the lowest.
“I think from a performance compensation standpoint this is merited, warranted,” said Mayor Terry Sinnott, who was involved in hiring Huth and negotiating his original salary.
Sinnott said going forward he would prefer to use bonuses rather than salary increases. He said he would like to establish four to six overreaching goals that could be used to measure the performance of the city manager.
“I’m supportive of this change but I’m also looking forward to … chang(ing) slightly how we’re doing our compensation review,” he said.
There were no public comments regarding the contract amendments, but Sherryl Parks said she appreciates Huth’s help since joining the council in December.
“I wanted to thank him for the level of attention to detail that he’s provided me to sit on this dais and feel comfortable,” she said. “He’s prepared the freshmen to do at least an adequate job.”