DEL MAR — For the second time this year, City Manager Scott Huth received a raise and bonus. Council members at the Dec. 5 meeting unanimously approved a 2 percent base salary increase and a 4 percent bonus for his 2016 performance.
Huth, who joined the city in January 2012, was granted a 3 percent merit increase and 3 percent bonus in June based on his work in 2015.
“We were about six months late in doing that performance review due to workloads, due to a lot of things going on,” Councilman Terry Sinnott said. “Looking forward we’re about ready to have a change in our council … and this council was anxious to be a part of the performance review and any changes that might take place as a result for this year, 2016.”
Sinnott said all current council members were part of the recent review.
“Our general conclusions are that Scott is doing very good work,” Sinnott said. “He is meeting our expectations in a number of different areas.”
Highlighting some of the city’s accomplishments this year, Sinnott said Huth and his staff limited general fund expenditures to $890,000, resulting in a 32 percent increase in the general fund contingency.
That allowed the city to transfer $1.5 million to the capital improvements fund. Huth also played a role in securing financing at 3.24 percent interest for the new $17.8 million civic center complex.
“That has been a major coup for our community to take advantage of those low rates,” Sinnott said.
Huth also helped negotiate a contribution-based health care package, saving the city money and offering employees more options. Under his management a new wastewater connection was completed, bringing more recycled water to the north end of the city.
Additionally, Huth helped with the sea-level rise study, climate action plan and passage of a 1 percent sales tax increase. He also managed the Anderson Canyon bluff failure that closed a major portion of Camino del Mar.
“Overall in 2016, when we look at it, we feel that Scott has done a very good job in our capital projects and getting things done that we have put on his priority list,” Sinnott said. “The city’s financial condition has improved … and it’s very healthy. We attribute that to Scott and his staff working as hard as they have.”
Councilman Don Mosier noted that wastewater is “not a very sexy theme,” but in the long-term that project could result in savings of up to $60 million.
“That’s a huge accomplishment in long-distance planning that hasn’t happened as well in the past,” he said.
Mosier added that as part of many regional boards he interacts with other city managers.
“Scott is highly respected among the city manager crew,” he said. “I can safely say that his performance exceeds most of the city managers that I’ve met and dealt with. So I think we’re privileged to have him here in Del Mar.
“I’ve heard comments that Del Mar is such a small city it’s easy to run,” Mosier added. “I think just the opposite is true. Del Mar has the same problems of cities of any size, and we have a small staff, and we have many interested citizens and volunteers which actually makes it more challenging to run.”
“Many of those things we don’t know,” resident Daniel Crabtree said. “None of that is ever published to the public. The citizens of Del Mar, in my estimation, don’t really have a very good idea what goes on. They don’t really know very well what the city manager does.”
Crabtree suggested council members, when deciding future pay increases, seek input from the public and employees. He also said they should talk to departing employees.
“I think you would learn a lot about what goes on in this city,” Crabtree said.
“These performance reviews are based on what’s gone well and what other opportunities there are to improve,” Sinnott said. “We have also identified four or five areas for him to work on.”
Councilman Dwight Worden said that list includes improving Huth’s communications with the public. He also said exit interviews with departing employees are conducted but can’t be discussed publicly.
“We do get a lot of communication from the public when they don’t like something,” Councilman Al Corti said. “I, for sure, don’t take it lightly.
“Scott takes criticism seriously,” he added. “I know he’s concerned about it and I know he tries hard to work in the community … and I know that’s one of the things he’s going to try to do better in the next year.”
Based on his current salary of $203,005, Huth will receive an additional $4,000 in annual pay and an $8,100 bonus for 2016.
Huth’s compensation is about 8 percent below the county median for that position.
Worden said he and Sinnott are evaluating the review process “so that we won’t get behind the eight-ball in the future and make sure things are done in a timely way.”