City Severance Packages Cost More than $120,000

I want to be a city manager.  I know nothing about the job or what it entails.  And who cares?  All I know is want to have get one of these sweet severance packages that city mangers receive when they get kicked to the curb. Like this one.

Firing City Manager John Little may have brought some political peace to Scottsdale City Hall, but terminating his contract came with a price. Little’s employment contract granted him a severance package worth six months of his total compensation, which included wages, vacation time and other benefits. The cost of Little’s severance comes to more than $120,000.

Here is the breakdown of  Big John Little’s package:

  • Six months’ wages: $95,004
  • Six months’ vacation accrual payoff: $10,962
  • Six months’ auto allowance: $3,600
  • Six months’ deferred compensation: $11,400.48
  • Six months’ medical, dental and life insurance coverage: $2,411.64
  • TOTAL $123,378.12

Are you PO’d yet?  No?  the story gets better.

It is cheaper than what it cost when then-City Manager Jan Dolan left in early 2008. Dolan received $160,000 as part of her voluntary separation agreement. Little’s separation is not the first time this year the city paid to get rid of a charter officer. It cost Scottsdale $105,200 to pay off former City Attorney Deborah Robberson’s contract.

Down the road in Tucson, we have a similar story to tell.  When Tucson’s City Council fired city manager Mike Hein last year, he too received a six month severance package.

The City Council voted 4-3 this afternoon to remove City Manager Mike Hein from office.  The vote came after an approximately 20-minute, closed-door meeting to conduct his annual performance evaluation.  The motion was approved with no public discussion.  Hein, who was paid more than $200,000 annually, left the meeting immediately following the vote saying he had no comment. His employment contract guarantees him six months severance pay.

Still not mad?  OK try this out.  Time to pour salt in the wound.  They hired this guy back!

Former Tucson City Manager Mike Hein has been hired to head up the county’s Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Hein will make $110,000 a year in the new position.

Hein, Tucson’s city manager since April 2005, lost the job in April when the City Council voted 4-3 to fire him. He received six months’ severance pay. He was arrested in September in Oro Valley on a charge of DUI.

So I want to be a city manager.  It obviously does not matter to anyone in the state how you perform.  They are going to reward you handsomely, no matter what.  Nice work if you can get it.


  1. Getting rid of John Little for only $120k was a bargain.

    The city budget is about a billion, and he was doing a poor job controlling it. Scottsdale dodged a bullet.

  2. Good one. It’s all a matter of perspective.

  3. Actually Snickers, Scottsdale’s operating budget is about #250 million; hardly a pittance, but not a billion.

    Papatodd, you are correct when you say that job performance doesn’t matter – good or bad, it’s all about politics.

    City Managers have to know everything and keep everybody happy.

    Much like a baseball manager, when things go bad, the CM is the first to go, even if he/she wasn’t responsible for the bad stuff. When things go well, the Mayor and City Council take the credit.

    And in a city like Scottsdale, just failing to kiss the Mayor’s @$$ enthusiastically enough will get a CM fired.

  4. Craig, you are right about the operating budget. But the amount of money in the not-so-tightly-defined City Budget that includes Capital Improvements and grants and other stuff is a billion or more.

    And my point is that a city manager has influence over that larger amount, not just the op budget.

  5. U.S Confederate of Me says

    Well, thats the beauty of being a politician. Presidents and other politicians recieve income long after they are voted out of office. People today become politicians for one thing only. “SMP”
    SEX, MONEY, POWER. No more ”old days”, were nationalism, or helping people procedes taking money from specials interest, etc… SAD DAYS. a true patriot is always ready to defend his country from his government.

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