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City OKs $227,000 manager contract

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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At outgoing City Manager Carlos Urrutia’s last meeting Tuesday, the Rocklin City Council unanimously approved the four-year employment contract for his replacement. “We had a unanimous vote that turned out to be Ricky Horst,” Councilman Brett Storey said. Horst, who was recruited from the city of Ocala, Fla., will now be offered a salary of $198,000. Urrutia’s last full-time contract saw a salary of $232,776. Councilman Peter Hill, who was the only member who’s hired a city manager before, explained during the public hearing how the council decided on a salary in closed sessions. “The base salary is well below most of our surrounding jurisdiction,” Hill said. “We took into account the cost of living in Rocklin which is 13.2 percent higher then Florida and the housing costs here are about 70 percent higher than there. They have no income tax in Florida.” Roseville’s city manager is paid $237,000, Lincoln $215,100, Folsom $212,024, Yuba City $192,780 and in Citrus Heights it’s $219,000, according to the city’s news release Right now, Horst earns $174,075 in Ocala — hired in 2008 at $165,000, according to the city of Ocala. According to Ocala, Horst manages 942 city employees with an operating budget of $357 million. Rocklin has a little over 235 employees with an operating budget of $44 million, according to the city clerk. In his previous employment in South Jordan, Utah after nine years as city manager Horst reportedly earned $132,080. The new contract also offers Horst $20,000 in deferred compensation (457 savings plan), $9,000 in car and cell allowance for a total of $227,000 in total cash compensation. Urrutia was paid $9,000 in deferred compensation, for a total of $258,070, according to city documents. Hill explained why Horst will be paid twice the amount of deferred compensation as his predecessor. “This compensation was tied to PERS,” Hil said. “What we found out is there is no retirement system in Florida. So obviously he can not transfer in any PERS accrual time. So even if he stays in Rocklin for the next 15 years, his retirement is going to be fairly modest in the PERS retirement system. We agreed to increase the deferred compensation if he would agree to pay the full employee’s cost of the PERS — which is 7 percent of his salary.” Right now, the city pays the city’s share of the PERS payments plus the employees’ share as well. Hill said, by law, they had to offer him a PERS pension. In the wake of controversy over excessive leave payouts, the council eliminated sick time payouts and put a cap on vacation payouts at termination for Horst. They also froze his salary for two years with increases after that to be at the same level as other department managers. The compensation also includes $15,000 for the reimbursement of moving expenses, which Hill said was proper. “Reimbursing costs for moving and locating a new home are normal when hiring public and private sector executives,” Hill said. Rocklin resident Gordon Havens said he didn’t agree with the moving allowance. “I think you made a great choice,” Havens said. “I have a small issue — $15,000 to move somewhere for a job he sought out?” Rocklin resident Paul Seegle scolded the council for offering what he described was an irresponsibly lucrative compensation package which is $100,000 higher than the median income for Rocklin residents. “How can we as citizens think that it is OK to pay somebody this kind of money regardless of background and what the other cities are doing?” Seegle said. “We need to lead by example. Compensation should be put on a sliding scale based on performance — how he does his job.” Seegle chided the council for not learning from the city of Bell scandal that saw it’s council, mayor and city manager arrested for misusing public funds in their own compensation. “In the wake of the city of Bell compensation issues that have been happening, I thought we’d be more fiscally responsible,” Seegle said. “Understand, the public outcry is out there — the public is not happy. I am very unhappy about this.” Community leader Roy Ruhkula, who advised council at a July public forum that they should pay the next city manager $125,000, said he is now throwing his support behind the council’s direction. Rocklin Chamber Chairman Dave Butler said too much media attention has been put on compensation and not enough on Horst’s real value to the economic development of Rocklin. “Economic development, downtown development and responsible responsive fiscally sound governance. Horst has a proven track record of success in these areas,” Butler said. “There has been no conversation about the value of his experience in coming to the city of Rocklin and the type of track record in his previous stints in Florida and Utah.” Horst said he’s excited about coming to Rocklin with his family. “We’re going to live in Rocklin,” Horst said. “I firmly believe you have to live in the community where you serve.” Urrutia will officially retire at the end of the month. Horst is expected to start in February.