City Council on split vote doubles length of city manager's contract

October 08, 1999
Santa Paula News
City Manager Peter Cosentini accomplished something no other municipal head has accomplished in the past when the City Council approved doubling his three-year contract. The council - on a split vote - gave their approval at the Oct. 4 meeting.With the vote, Cosentini secured a six-year contract that will expire in 2004; the council had already approved a three-year contract in recent months."My employment contract of three years is now a little over 50 percent expired and I believe it is reasonable to come to the council at this time and ask," for the extension, Cosentini said. "I think it is reasonable for my family and I to know at this point in time, whether the council wishes to extend the employment relationship beyond the next 16 months."The city contract with Cosentini, who began his employment as city manager in February 1998 and makes about $99,000 a year in base salary, allows contract renewal negotiations to open seven months - or even sooner - before it expires, said Councilwoman Laura Flores Espinosa."I don't feel this is an appropriate time," to extend the contract, she noted. ". . .it seems like the city manager is setting terms to his own best interests."In addition, although Cosentini's contract notes he is an "at-will" employee who can be dismissed at any time without cause, the employment agreement includes a lump sum severance package that includes six months salary as well as city paid health benefits for a like time unless Cosentini found other employment during that time, Espinosa added.
She said she would prefer to see some of Cosentini's "plans [for enlarging city coffers] come to fruition" before such a contract extension is addressed.Mayor Jim Garfield said he could understand Espinosa's reservations, but that he also understands Cosentini's "desire to have something to hang his hat on," for himself and his family.Espinosa was the only vote against the contract extension.

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