Burbank City Manager Mark Scott tells Council he’s retiring
After midnight Friday, Burbank City Manager Mark Scott emailed the City Council to inform them of his planned retirement. A few days earlier, Scott had informed the city’s department heads that he was working on picking a date for his departure, but it would likely be after the New Year.
“Meanwhile, I hope we can focus on the work at hand and I will do my best during whatever transition the City Council chooses to do,” he said in an email to the city’s top-level managers around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
That was about 18 hours after the majority of the council failed to approve a measure that would have created a new administrative position the Public Works department. Mayor Bob Frutos had told his colleagues and the public after the vote that Scott had told him if it failed to pass, he would be stepping down as the city’s top executive.
In his message to the council Friday, Scott thanked them for the opportunity to serve as city manager and said he was privileged “to work with such a dedicated, hard-working City Council and monumentally talented executive team” that inspires him daily. He said he was seeking a retirement date from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.
“I am sad to leave, but it is time,” he wrote. “I pledge to you my best effort until my final day, and please know I will offer any other help I can give you in the future.”
Scott, who has in recent months helped to mediate a City Council workshop on priorities and has discussed the need to increase the availability of housing that the city’s workforce can afford, said the city faces “tough decisions” in its future. He said he hopes the council can “do your best to restore dignity to our sometimes dysfunctional community dialogue.”
“Even the closest families experience occasional squabbles and we have had a few,” Scott said. “But regardless, it is my honor to have worked for this community.”
In late September, Scott closed escrow on the sale of his home in Fresno, where he lived when he worked as city manager prior to being hired in Burbank in 2013.
Scott has been living in an apartment in Burbank since shortly after he was hired, but earlier this year, his wife took a position as chief executive of the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert in Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs.
Councilman Will Rogers said earlier this week he thought Scott was tired from traveling back and forth to the desert on the weekends and said he felt the city manager also “has had reasons to feel micromanaged” over this week’s vote and other issues.
Scott told the elected officials he felt he deserved an explanation for why three members would not support the creation of the position, the cost of which had already been included in the city’s fiscal year 2015-16 budget approved in June.
It would have cost the city an additional $14,000 yearly — about $11,300 in salary and $2,600 in benefits — and, Scott argued, would have allowed an existing employee who was already doing the duties to be paid and classified appropriately. It would have brought her in line with other employees of a similar level of responsibility, said Betsy Dolan, the city’s Management Services director.
However, Mayor Bob Frutos said he felt the amount was too much when the proposal first appeared on the council’s consent agenda on Sept. 15 and in two subsequent meetings when it was discussed, including the one this week. He and Councilman David Gordon voted against the measure that night and again on Monday, when Councilman Jess Talamantes also opposed it.
Frutos had also hinted at concerns that the reclassified employee was receiving special treatment, though it’s not clear whether his information about the affected employee is accurate. Scott has said that none of the council members who had voted against the new position had spoken to him about the issue or allowed him to respond to their specific concerns.
Frutos is unreachable this week while he and Gordon are in South Korea for the installation of a statue honoring Burbank’s sister city Incheon. Before leaving, he did not disclose the source of his information or what exact information he had.
Rogers said some council members had heard from employees in the public works department upset about the employee they believe would have received the promotion.
The Burbank City Employees Assn., the city’s largest public employees union, which represents public works employees, did not respond to a request for comment.
Scott has also said it’s not up to the city to make hiring decisions. The Burbank city charter gives the city manager near exclusive discretion in hiring and appointing — or removing — city employees.
While Scott, who has spent more then 35 years in city management, plans to begin drawing his public pension “perhaps in February,” he said he won’t be retiring from the workforce.
“I’m sure I have another five to 10 years of work left in me,” Scott said early Friday morning. “I might, however, celebrate having Tuesday nights off for the first time in my adult life.”