San Ramon plans quick action to replace City Manager Moniz, who's retiring

At $359,669 a year, he's highest paid city manager in state

San Ramon's City Council plans to move quickly to replace retiring City Manager Herb Moniz, who will leave the job in three months.

"My plan was to return and stay for two years and here it is six years later," Moniz wrote in a letter delivered to council members. "My current employment contract is up in March 2011. On careful thought and consideration, I've decided to retire."

At $359,669 a year, according to a state database, Moniz is the highest-paid city manager in California, a fact that came to light in the wake of a salary scandal in the small Southern California town of Bell.

Moniz's retirement announcement leaves the city in a unique position among Bay Area localities. Mayor Abram Wilson and council members have justified the city manager's high pay, saying it's offset by the fact that San Ramon doesn't have an assistant city manager.

While that may be a cost saver, it also leaves the city without a qualified person to take the helm if a new city manager isn't hired before Moniz leaves in March.

Wilson said San Ramon will move quickly to fill the slot.

"We'll pull out the qualifications (from Moniz's job description) to apply, and we'll do interviews as soon as possible," Wilson said. "The posting should go out the first of the year. Hopefully, we'll have someone by March. That's our goal."

Asked if city council members will look in-house for a new city manager, Wilson replied, "We always look for the best person for that position."

Moniz was hired in 1985 and worked his way up through the ranks of San Ramon administration. He was fired in 2002 by a newly elected City Council majority, then rehired as city manager in 2004 at the same salary that his replacement, Gail Waiters was getting and has successfully negotiated increases of $100,000 since then.

At this point, it's unlikely San Ramon also will hire an assistant city manager.

"Not at this time," said Scott Perkins, San Ramon's vice mayor. "There are only two employees that work directly for the City Council. That's the city manager and city attorney."

Perkins said hiring an assistant city manager "is really the purview of the city manager.

"That's a decision that the city manager would have to make," he said.

But Wilson said San Ramon won't suffer too badly if a new city manager isn't found before Moniz leaves.

"I think that we are so well structured that we will be able to function at the same level until we have someone," Wilson said. "We give department heads the ability to run their department, and I think that's the key that's made San Ramon so strong and we count on that."

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Posted by Austin
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2010 at 8:43 am

The salary that was paid to Herb Monitz is an outstanding example of what has gone wrong in compensation paid to government employees. First, the salary and benefits were grossly excessive. Secondly, Mr. Monitz is retiring at a young age and will get a very high percentage of his ending salary for life.

Cities, counties and the state should take the meat cleaver to these compensation packages, otherwise bankruptcy loons at all levels of government. If any of these employees want to strike - let them. Then fire them in mass. It will only take a few mass firings to get these employees to agree to much lower compensation.

Let's start by publishing the compensation packages of employees of the City of Pleasanton including the police, and also Pleasanton-Livermore firemen. Then, lets have public hearings on what compensation should be going forward. The retire-at-age-50-at-full-pay has to go. The short-term plan should be to make the age to start receiving pensions the same as for Social Security, and the retirement pay should not over 50% of their last salaries. The longer term plan should be to make public employee retirement plans the same as the corporate world (i.e. 401k's).

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Posted by fact checker
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2010 at 9:29 am

Pleasanton is NOT San Ramon. I believe we have the lowest paid city manager in the region! Career city employees do not get SS and the retirement age is a state thing and needs to be addressed at the state level.

Reform yes, but don't mix facts and present them as truth. The records are public. Make sure you are looking at the entire picture. Pleasanton has a healthy reserve also because the city has been prudent. I know this because I watched the city council meeting in this month and they did a fiscal report.

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Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 28, 2010 at 9:30 am

When the PBGC takes over a retirement fund, after bankruptcy for example, they have a penalty for retiring early. Early being anything less than age 65. The person loses 7% of the potential payout for every year that they retire before age 65. These bozos retiring at age 50 or 55 should be held to that same standard. Not one dime until age 65 and the benefit will be reduced by 7% for every year prior to 65 that they retired.
They have contributed noting to the retirement, they spike the final year of earnings, they retire at MORE than they made while working and they get it for life. Are you tired of paying for that? I am.

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Posted by San Ramon Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 28, 2010 at 4:04 pm

High Salaries are necessarily a bad when used as a tool to hire the absolute best person. With that said, salaries need to be viewed and measured carefully in light of the entire city budget. When I learned that San Ramon is seeking to increase fee for the weekly senior bridge game by $1.00 and the little league playground fees by $5.00 I was appalled. If we, as a community, start nickle-and-diming seniors and children then where are we? I think it is very self serving to command and receive such a high salary under the premise that you don't to share the duties with someone who can step in. Shame on the mayor and all of the San Ramon city council.

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Posted by GX
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2010 at 6:32 am

Retirement age limits are set by cities - check your facts. Out of control city pension programs are local not state issues. Until more citizens become aware and get involved, cities will continue to look for ways to increase revenue in order to "feed the beast" of public employee retirement plans.

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Posted by resdent
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 29, 2010 at 8:48 am

"I believe we have the lowest paid city manager in the region!"
We very well may have that -- but last time I looked he had THREE full time, fully paid "assistants"! That brings our cost for the city manager and his gang up pretty darn close to half a million dollars per year. Fiahlo needs to go solo on this job, it is NOT a full time job for four people. That alone would cut three excess positions from the payroll and the eventual lifetime pensions.

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Posted by bob123
a resident of another community
on Dec 29, 2010 at 9:32 am

Let's see --San Ramon could probbaly hire 2 or 3 folks at the saalary paid to this guy-- and he may deserve that salary I have no idea. But let's think of a different approach-maybe take his current salary and hire one city manager at one third or forty perscent--and use the rest for police or fire or library or teachers. Duh!!!

Like this comment
Posted by FRustrated
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 30, 2010 at 6:48 pm

360k per year for the rest of his life...
The Mayor said "He's worth every penny".


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Posted by Arnold
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2010 at 7:05 pm

Abram Wilson is a nice guy that believes what he says. Unfortunately that is part of the problem. San Ramon has overpaid their CM by a large margin with the "fiscally conservative" mayor justifying his salary every step of the way, even claiming the CM has worn both the CM and assistant CM hat. Now he has neither. He, the mayor, also thinks he has solved the pension problem in San Ramon by issuing Pension Obligation Bonds. He claims that San Ramon has ZERO pension debt and that other cities should look to San Ramon as a model for solving their unfunded liabilities. He doesn't get it. I wouldn't vote for him if he were running for city council. And I'm thankful that Mayor Wilson isn't working in Sacramento.

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Posted by Lugnut
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Dec 31, 2010 at 8:48 am

Once again, a Management Employee is at the focal point. They not only get the high pay but the perks that City Councils lavish on them. Most City Council members feel that they be obligated to City managers and Mgt Staff because they no nothing when seated on Council. Your on the street Parks, Sewer, Water, Police and Firefighter do not get to "Spike" their retirements like these guys. And cities that are in trouble spent monies destined to pensions when times were good and they were "super funded", which means that investments were so good that cities did not need to continue to pay into their CalPers accounts. Fortunately Pleasanton did not do that but paid all along for the "rainey day". Pensions will be changed so all that have their undies in a "yellow bundle"
will stop barking. Public Employment will be Wal Marted or Safewayed and then you will be complaining again. Can't believe the disdain for Public Employees. They negotiated for everything they got and gave up things to get things. City officials and City Management never say that. $10 million arts house with public money is ok, decent salaries and benefits for those who serve you is not. While Dublin gets great businesses to come to their town we are moving at a snails pace. Can't have it all ways. If you want good employees, then pay them fairly or otherwise then start to learn another language.

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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jan 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm

If you can afford it, keep up the good work.
If you can't afford it, then find a way to work within your budget.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmmm
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 2, 2011 at 2:45 am

Lugnuts, it isn't managemt that is consuming the bulk of the budgets, and I'm not suggesting management isn't part of the problem. The real cost of exorbinant compensation, paid leave, and pension benefits can be attributed to the general workers who earn substantially more than their private sector counter parts, and make up the bulk of general fund employee costs.

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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 2, 2011 at 3:42 am

With that said, this is a thread about the San Ramon City Manager who is due a very large pension at the expense of taxpayers. Abram Wilson has justified the salary by claiming the CM has worn many hats in the city of San Ramon, doing the work of two or three equivalent positions. While I don't think this is a fair arrangement, or that one person with the responsibility of a CM position would actually have time to do these other jobs, it makes you wonder if the CM position is even a full time job to begin with. And considering that the Pleasanton City Manager has two full-time Assistant City Managers it begs the question, Why? Why is Pleasanton paying 800K per year for a city manager/assistant city managers when people are complaining about the San Ramon City Manager making 370K per year for performing both those functions. And I'm not aware of any other city this size that has two assistant city managers. But I am aware of one other city with over 100K residents that doesn't have any assistant city managers.

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