Nevada City’s latest city manager to earn base pay of $115,000 per year plus generous benefits

The latest City of Nevada City Manager, Catrina Olson, will earn a base salary of $115,000 per year plus generous benefits, according to an employment contract. Olson joined the city (pop. about 3,000) in 2007 as finance manager and has since been promoted to other positions including assistant city manager (as of October 2013).

The city manager’s position has turned over several times since then. This is Olson’s first job as a city manager (her predecessors were more experienced in city government), and it comes at a challenging time for the city.

Olson’s salary will be reviewed annually and “it is the intent of the City Council to increase salary, or other benefits referred to in this agreement during the five-year term of this Agreement, dependent on the quality of job performance by City Manager and the City’s fiscal condition.”

The contract is a consent agenda item at the Council’s this Wednesday’s council meeting. That means there will be no separate discussion of the item — including the rationale for the figures in the contract — unless members of the Council, staff or the public request that it be removed from the consent calendar for separate discussion.

The term of the agreement is from January 10, 2018, until June 30, 2023.

“The City of Nevada City Manager position became available July 29, 2018 (sic) when Mark Prestwich resigned,” a memo to the Council (see below) said. “At that time, the City Council appointed the Assistant City Manager, Catrina Olson, as the Acting City Manager.” (Most of us thought Prestwich resigned in 2017, not 2018, so that should be cleared up).

“The City Council did a recruitment for the City Manager role before making the decision, at the January 13, 2018 (sic), to appoint the Acting City Manager, Catrina Olson to the position of City Manager, which was accepted.” (I also think the word “meeting” is missing from this short memo. Oops!)

Other benefits include four weeks of paid vacation per year; 14 holidays per year; 80 hours of administrative leave per year; one day per month of sick leave; health insurance; life insurance; allowance for automobiles and cell — and retirement perks.

“Manager is a ‘Classic’ Miscellaneous member of the California Public Employee’s retirement system. Manager will be covered under the Nevada City’s 2.5% at age 55 formula. Manger’s contribution towards the retirement system will be the full employees share, of 8%, consistent with all other Miscellaneous Management and Supervisory employees. The City will pay the employer’s share to PERS and Social Security and Manager shall pay the employee contribution of Social Security.”

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

4 thoughts on “Nevada City’s latest city manager to earn base pay of $115,000 per year plus generous benefits”

  1. Catrina is not a professional planner yet she commands this professional salary? She’s basically learning on the job and who’s doing the teaching? Hal?

    1. Catrina is the city manager and Amy is the city planner, but this is Catrina’s first job as the full-time city manager. She was the assistant city manager. To me, at least, the starting salary in this role (base pay of $115K plus all the benefits) is high, given her experience, a low inflation rate, and compared to the starting salaries of previous, more experienced city managers (Prestwich, Albaugh, and Brennan). A more prudent management practice (especially given runaway costs for small cities like ours) would have been to give Catrina a nice raise after reaching goals at the one-year mark — a common practice. Hal is a part-time lawyer with a Roseville outfit that farms out lawyers to cities. He used to work for the County as a land-use lawyer. He has been a snide and dismissive lawyer to our neighbors regarding valid concerns about the height of a “granny unit,” as well as my simple request to discuss the rationale for the city manager’s salary in a public meeting, instead of automatically approving it on a consent calendar — again, a standard practice. If you watch the meetings, you tend to notice a generally snide and dismissive attitude that creeps into the discussion by certain staff members and Council members. Public service can be a thankless job, to be sure, but some of the folks at the table sound burned out from public service. I’m excited about Erin Minett joining the Council. I voted for Erin and Duane this time around — now feeling better about the former than the latter. So it goes.

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