Sunday, June 23, 2024
Deputy City Manager Richard C. Rossi has been proposed as the next city manager for a three-year term. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Deputy City Manager Richard C. Rossi has been proposed as the next city manager for a three-year term. (Photo: Marc Levy)

As city manager, Richard C. Rossi will earn $330,000 in each year of a proposed three-year contract, according to a posting of the document online for consideration Monday by the City Council.

Rossi, who has been deputy city manager since August 1982 but has worked for the city for slightly over four decades, earns about $50,000 less per year now. His salary is listed as just below $280,000.

Longtime City Manager Robert W. Healy is said to earn $341,000 per year, up from $336,317 in 2010, and with his retirement this summer is expected to reap a retirement package worth up to $5 million.

With the ratification of his contract by the council, Rossi would end his role as deputy city manager June 30 and show up for work July 1 – a Monday – as what councillor David Maher calls “chief executive of the city.”

“Becoming city manager is a dream come true for me. To be able to do the job we do in the city, it takes a lot of time. And when you have a family that pats you on the back and says ‘We know you love doing this, so go ahead,’ that’s important,” Rossi said Dec. 3 as the council voted to make him the next city manager. “I’m blessed. I’m a lucky man.”

His promotion was approved by the council in an 8-1 vote after much comment from surprised residents and even officials, considering that on March 19 councillors backed an extension of Healy’s contract because it would give them time for short- and long-term succession plans. As recently as early November they were still talking about those plans without mention of Rossi’s promotion – beyond the likelihood Rossi would be a strong candidate for the job.

Suddenly Dec. 3, with little progress made in five meetings of Maher’s Government Operations and Rules Committee, six councillors proposed Rossi’s promotion and Maher’s committee switched gears to craft a contract.

As part of the 8-1 vote, with Craig Kelley voting in the negative, the council agreed the committee was to present its proposed contract “for approval no later than January 7, 2013.”

The perks

As part of that contract, it is proposed that Rossi get use of a city car for unrestricted use, including insurance, maintenance, repairs and gas paid by the city; a cellphone, tablet and “other devices” with “some moderate personal use” permitted in recognition of the city manager’s intense and unpredictable work schedule; and a $120,000 life insurance policy.

In addition, he gets 25 vacation days a year, five of which can carry over from one contract year to the next; 15 sick days each year that can accumulate with no limits; and a continuation of special benefits he has as deputy city manager “as an inducement to Mr. Rossi to accept employment … and waive certain sick leave benefits.”

“Rossi has accrued substantial accrued unused sick leave from his many yeas of employment,” the contract says, and they carry over to his new contract for potential buyback by the city when the contract ends “limited to the cap established by the city for other non-union management employees at the time of such termination.”

He can also carry over 15 unused vacation days from his old contract to the new one, with the rest to be bought back if he is fired or when he retires. The contract says the number of days will be determined June 30. The vacation, personal, compensatory and administrative leave days earned as city manager can also be bought back, the contract says.

By starting as city manager with these terms and trading for other considerations, Rossi has “separately and voluntarily agreed” to let go of the days already accrued – at a current value of about $615,000.

Leaving office

Like the current city manager, Rossi will be indemnified forever against legal actions brought against him and the city while he holds office, whether the charges are “groundless or otherwise.” The city also promises in the contract to review buying “directors and officers” liability insurance.

He can quit with at least four months’ notice, and his salary will be prorated if he leaves before a full year is up. He can be fired for cause by a majority vote of the council without extra compensation or removed from office at any time for any reason and get early termination pay in a lump sum: a full year of pay in the first contract year; nine months’ pay in the second; and six months’ pay in the third.

If the city wants to keep him on for a second term, Rossi must be notified on or before March 1, 2016, when negotiations for the next contract would start.

Rossi, 66, grew up in Cambridge but lives in Watertown.