McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

May 19, 2013

McAlester city manager reviews contract proposal from city council

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — McAlester City Manager Pete Stasiak said Friday he intends to sign a new one-year contract to continue in his post with the city — he just hadn’t done it yet.

Stasiak said he wants to meet first with McAlester Mayor Steve Harrison this week to discuss a point before he affixes his signature to the contract.

It concerns what Stasiak called a minor detail — but he wanted to get an answer from the mayor before signing off on the document.

The contract won’t be official until it’s signed by both Stasiak and the mayor.

McAlester City Councilors offered Stasiak a new one-year contract after the panel met behind closed doors in executive session last Tuesday night.

Following an approximately 90-minute meeting, they reconvened in open session and voted unanimously to offer the contract to Stasiak for another year.

Stasiak obviously didn’t have a chance to review the proposed new contract in depth on the spot, but was given an opportunity to take it home with him for a closer look.

Not much had changed.

“The pay and the benefits were all rolled over,” Stasiak said, referring to the contract for the upcoming 2013-2014 Fiscal Year being virtually the same as the previous one.

Stasiak’s salary and other benefits in the proposed new contract remain the same as last year’s, a review of the two documents shows. Stasiak said he did not seek a raise.

“You don’t ask for pay raises and negotiate when the city’s got a $2.8 million deficit,” Stasiak said Friday.

“We’re asking employees to do more with less,” he said. “We all need to be part of the solution.”

The new contract, like the previous one, calls for Stasiak to be paid a base salary of $113,000.

Also, as in the previous contract, the proposed new contract states Stasiak is entitled to medical, dental, vision, accidental death and life insurance, “which are presently entitled to non-uniformed employees.”

Under the proposed new contract, the city also agrees to contribute an amount equal to 10 percent of Stasiak’s base pay of $113,000 “into the retirement plan of the employee’s choosing.”

That amounts to $11, 300 — the same rate as in the previous contract.

Also, both contracts call for Stasiak to be paid a vehicle allowance of $500 a month — which totals $6,000 annually. Both contracts also state a city vehicle, if available, will be used for all out-of-town travel.”

Both contracts also state that Stasiak shall accrue and have credited to his personal account 20 days of vacation leave for each succeeding year of employment.

“Employee will be allowed to carry over, from year to year, vacation leave as per other non-uniformed employees,” the proposed contract states, with the city manager being the employee  referred to in the document. “Employee shall accrue 12 days sick leave per annum. Employee will be allowed to carry over sick leave as per other non-uniformed employees,” the contract states.

Both the current contract and the one proposed to go into effect July 1 at the beginning of the city’s new fiscal year state that if the city manger is terminated and his contract is not renewed, he shall be paid a lump sum cash payment equal to six months base salary, as well as all accrued sick leave and vacation days, subject to the same limits applicable to all non-uniformed employees.

Both contracts include a provision regarding the payment of COBRA benefits, which basically allows an employee to remain insured for a set period of time after leaving a particular job.

“Following termination without cause, employer will also pay COBRA benefits each month employee verifies unemployment, up to and not to exceed six months,” the proposed contracts state.

However, if the city manager should be terminated With cause, the city will have no obligation to pay severance pay and any pay for unused vacation and sick leave would be at the discretion of the city, according to provisions in both contracts.

Stasiak reiterated he intends to sign the contract.

“I want to talk to the mayor first,” he said.

What is the point he wants to discuss?

“I want to see if I can continue to serve on the board of the City Managers’ Association of Oklahoma, representing southeastern Oklahoma,” he said.

Stasiak is the current District 2 representative on the board.

One of the few changes in the new contract is the council’s decision to strike a clause that had been in the old contract, mandating that Stasiak belong to several professional organizations.

Clause 12 begins the same in both contracts:

“Employer (the city) agrees to budget for and pay the professional dues, subscription, travel and subsistence expenses of employee for professional participation and travel, meetings, and occasions adequate to continue his professional development,” the passage reads.

That’s how the clause ends in the proposed new contract.

However, the previous contract for the current 2012-2013 Fiscal Year which ends on June 30 had gone on to mandate the organizations to which Stasiak shall belong.

The previous contract stated it like this:

“Said participation shall include, but not limited to, the International City/County Management Association, the Oklahoma Municipal League, the Oklahoma City Management Association, and other such national, regional, state and local government groups and committees thereof which employee serves as a member, and of which said participation is beneficial to employer, as well as associated short courses, institutes and seminars.”

The new contract drops that passage entirely — which basically means Stasiak is no longer being told to which organizations he shall belong.

That doesn’t mean he no longer wants to belong to some of the professional organizations, however — leading to Stasiak’s statement he wants to continue as a board member with the City Management Association of Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, Stasiak said he doesn’t necessarily plan on waiting until the next city council meeting to turn in the proposed contract after he signs it.

That could happen as soon as this week, according to the city manager.

“I’ll sign it and give it the city clerk,” he said.

The mayor is then authorized to sign it on behalf of the city council.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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