The city council will take action Tuesday to a ratify a newly negotiated contract with Police Chief Jeff Grubbs — the second contract the new police chief has faced in just over a month on the job, and one that does away with a contentious housing allowance but greatly increases his overall pay.
At a press conference Wednesday announcing that Gary Williams, assistant city manager for economic development, would take over as interim city manager in the wake of Kevin Baity’s Oct. 1 departure, Mayor Mike Henry said the police chief’s contract with the city has been the focus of extensive negotiations among council members.
“Council has spent a lot of time, and Mr. Grubbs has spent a lot of time on this to make the adjustments that council thought was necessary,” Henry said. “We had a good back and forth. A consensus has been reached.”
Grubbs’ initial contract, finalized Sept. 15, granted him an annual base salary of $108,000 and, more contentiously, an additional $15,000 each year to establish his primary residence within the corporate city limits. Grubbs, a long-standing veteran of the Carbondale Police Department, has lived on rural property just outside the city limits that fails to conform to the city’s residency requirement.
Henry told the Times earlier this week that council “wasn’t really comfortable with the agreement” reached between Grubbs and Baity.
The new agreement does away with the housing allowance, but increases Grubbs’ annual pay to $125,700 — a bump of $17,700. He will still be required to seek a primary residence in the city.
The details of Baity’s release, which came after three and a half years on the job, have been kept tightly under wraps due to state personnel law. Earlier this month, Henry termed it a “friendly departure,” and Baity declined to comment on the situation when contacted by the Times. Henry previously has said the decision for the city to end its relationship with Baity was not directly related to the hiring of Grubbs, which Henry long had advocated.
Williams, who has worked for the city since June 2011, will serve as interim city manager until a permanent candidate is found, which Henry said could take six to nine months and may or may not involve outside consultants. One other candidate, who Henry said was not a current city employee, was a finalist for the interim job.
“What the council was looking for was someone who could step in quickly and was familiar with what we’re doing, what’s going on, so obviously he fit that bill,” Henry said.
Williams said he wasn’t sure if he would apply for the permanent job, although Henry said he of course would be welcome to do so.
“Certainly the fact that I want to be interim should provide some evidence that my future goal is to be city manager,” Williams said. “This probably evolved more quickly than I anticipated, but I’m happy to be in the role and excited about the opportunity.”