By Bob Pepalis
Marie Garrett can take the “interim” off of her city manager job title with the city of Brookhaven now. A 3-0 City Council vote on May 27 lets her keep the $214,000 annual salary now that she has a contract for the job.
Mayor J. Max Davis said first city officials had to convince Garrett to switch from being a private consultant to become their interim city manager. They recruited her from the private sector where she was consulting, writing a textbook and teaching.
Garrett has been paid at the same salary rate of $214,000 a year this year before this contract was approved. She had the opportunity to earn additional pay through consulting fees if she worked more than the 40 hours a week in her agreement to be the city’s interim city manager.
“This is more than a good deal for the city based upon what my experience has been in with persons in other industries who have functions as CEOs,” said City Attorney Thompson Kurrie as he explained the contract negotiated with Garrett.
Garrett’s contract is retroactive to February, and ends Dec. 31. It will renew each year unless the city terminates her contract, or she ends her work with Brookhaven.
She also gets the same benefits all other employees receive. Retirement will be 8.8 percent of her compensation, which is equal to the 10 percent employer match in the city’s 401(k) plan.
If City Council chooses to terminate her without cause, Garrett will receive a severance package equal to nine months of her salary.
Mayor Davis said this contract is fairly standard for city managers.
After making a motion to approve the contract, Councilman Bates Mattison said that “Marie Garrett is in my experience the best city manager I’ve ever seen.”
Councilwoman Rebecca Chase Williams said when City Council members were sworn in the Governor’s Commission had done a lot of work. However, they hadn’t done much more to find a city manager than picking an executive search firm. Garrett already had been brought on board in an interim basis. As about a dozen city manager candidates were interviewed, Williams said they kept coming back to Garrett’s greater experience, especially with startups.
“We as a city should not be penny wise and pound foolish,” said Mattison, a sentiment shared by Davis and Williams.
Davis said a neighboring city’s mayor wanted to replace their city manager with Garrett, which put Brookhaven in a bit of a salary war, he said.
“They had at that time the highest paid city manager,” he said, who was being paid $207,000 a year and was in line for a 4 percent pay raise.
Switching city attorneys put Brookhaven behind in making the contract agreement.
“This is not just about Marie Garrett. This is about delivering the best value for your tax dollar,” Mattison said.