, May 23, 2022

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Benicia city manager expected to receive 6% raise


  •   3 min reads
Benicia city manager expected to receive 6% raise
Benicia City Hall.

BENICIA – Citing a desire to keep City Manager Erik Upson following a positive evaluation, the Benicia City Council is expected to vote during its meeting on Tuesday to give Upson a 6% pay raise over the next two years.

The raise will be split over two years with Upson receiving a 3% cost of living increase on June 21 followed by another 3% increase on June 21, 2023. Upson currently earns $19,952 a month or $239,424 a year in base salary.

Benicia city manager Erik Upson.
Benicia city manager Erik Upson.

Additional terms include the city putting 1% of Upson’s monthly salary into a retiree health savings account, with Upson being eligible for a one-time retention bonus of up to 10% following the council’s evaluation of his performance each year.

Another major change includes the addition of a fixed term in Upson’s employment agreement with the city. If approved, the agreement will end on Feb. 20, 2024.

“The City is desirous to retain the service of the Manager and understands the challenges in the current environment of retention and recruitment and wants to provide a competitive offer towards this end,” the amended employment agreement states.

It said that Upson is eligible to retire in 2022, and that the city wants him to commit to continuing his work “to help continue the momentum of progress through the challenges facing the City.”

Upson, originally hired as the city’s police chief, was made interim city manager in September 2020, following the sudden resignation of Lorie Tinfow. Upson was appointed to the permanent city manager position in January 2021.

Tinfow signed a separation agreement that gave her $303,718, which included $259,385 for 13 months of pay, plus $26,287 in unused vacation time, $12,157 in compensation for one-half of her sick leave, and $5,887 for one-half of her unused administrative leave.

Tinfow’s contract with the city stated that if she was “involuntarily terminated” she would receive 12 months’ salary, accrued vacation leave, half of her accrued administrative leave, and half of her accrued sick leave.

According to the contract, involuntary termination can occur through Tinfow’s resignation following a salary, compensation and/or benefit reduction without her consent; a reduction in the powers and authority of the city manager position, the total elimination of the city manager’s position; or if Tinfow resigns following a formal demand by a majority of the Benicia City Council.

Following his promotion to city manager, Upson made police Capt. Mike Greene the permanent police chief.

City Council expected to approve new contract with police management

More than seven months after a memorandum of understanding between the city and police management employees expired, the city council is set to mull over a new three-year successor agreement, which will cost the city nearly $200,000.

The new contract includes a 1% cost of living adjustment during the current fiscal year, followed by a 3% increase for the 2022-23 fiscal year and 5% salary bump for the 2023-24 fiscal year. Fiscal years run from July 1 through to the following June 30.

The contract will also provide for a one-time allotment of 20 hours of administrative leave during the current fiscal year, with any left over leave as of March 20 being cashed-out to the employee. It also adds a vacation cash out and education incentive.  

The increase will cost Benicia $45,715 during the current fiscal year, and $54,400 and $91,570 over the next two fiscal years, respectively. The police management employees covered by the contract include a police captain and lieutenant and a vacant deputy police chief position.

City staff said in a report that the contract will give Benicia the “time to work on City Council priorities of recruitment and retention and focusing on high performing government.”

“The City, for many years, has dealt with ongoing employee turnover at all levels in the organization,” the city report added. “The significant employee turnover has created inefficiencies throughout the organization, increasing the cost of operations and, at times, reducing the efficiency of service to the community.”

The Benicia City Council will meet at 6 p.m.Tuesday via teleconference.

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