New Burbank city manager to earn nearly $300,000 each year

The incoming Burbank city manager is slated to become the highest paid public official in the tri-city region, with a nearly $300,000 salary that had been marketed early on in an effort to recruit "top talent."

With a starting salary of $24,166 a month plus a monthly $1,800 relocation allowance for up to 18 months, Mark Scott will make more than the city managers of Glendale and Pasadena, and the mayor of Los Angeles.

After the relocation allowance expires, Scott will earn $298,000 annually, according to the contract brokered with the city.

Before Scott was hired, the base salary range for the Burbank city manager was $13,994 to $18,402 a month, or $167,928 to $220,824 annually. Former City Manager Mike Flad's starting salary was $18,117 a month.

[For the Record, June 26: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Scott's typical annual salary included the relocation assistance, which it will not.]

But the council raised the stakes earlier this year when it advertised a $260,000 to $300,000 annual salary range for the position after the executive search firm hired to spearhead recruitment said the city's existing range wouldn't attract the best candidates.

"I recommended to the council that their current salary range was too low and we would not be successful in attracting a really strong candidate pool," said Bobbi Peckham, of Peckham & McKenney, an executive search firm.

City Council members — who were expected to approve the final contract Tuesday night — said earlier this week that they weren't disappointed.

"If you want the best, you have to be prepared to pay the most competitive wage," Councilman Jess Talamantes said Tuesday. "We weren't looking for an average city manager."

Scott's contract also mandates that he be the city's highest paid employee, a distinction that until now had fallen to Ron Davis, general manager of Burbank Water and Power.

Davis makes $250,000 annually, officials said, but last year, his gross income hit $300,969 after cash benefits and cash-outs of accrued leave, records show.

Glendale's city manager, Scott Ochoa, has a gross annual salary of $248,543. The base salary for the mayor of Los Angeles is $232,426.

Scott’s salary is closer to, but still higher than that of Pasadena’s city manager, who makes $265,000 annually, according to city records.

"To get anyone qualified, that's what it's going to take," said Councilman Gary Bric. "It's our responsibility to bring the finest city manager to the city and I believe in our deliberations we did."

But Scott wasn't making nearly that much in Fresno, a city five times larger than Burbank, where his salary was $189,000.

Peckham said Scott was under-compensated in Fresno due to the city's "severe economic issues."

"That salary had been appropriate for that city and its current economic issues at the time," Peckham said.

Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy said Monday the salary for the top post reflects Scott's experience and Burbank's complexity.

"He's not coming in never having been a city manager, he's not coming in having held the position of assistant city manager, he's coming in with that top experience for more than two decades," Gabel-Luddy said. "It's important because our city is a full-service city with its own water and power, with an airport, with a landfill, with a world-class recreation and park program, and a first-rate public education system."

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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