Council Approves Pay Hike for City Manager

Raise, following performance evaluation, brings yearly salary to $296,010, about the median for pay of city managers of similarly-sized cities

Published : Tuesday, November 20, 2018 | 6:10 AM

The Pasadena City Council Monday approved a second modification of City Manager Steve Mermell’s employment agreement, bringing his base salary to $296,010 yearly.

The raise, which was proposed by Mayor Terry Tornek following Mermell’s most recent performance evaluation, passed unanimously as part of the Council’s regular consent agenda, in which several items are voted on together as part of a “sweep motion.”

Pasadena resident Mary Dee Romney questioned the timing of the raise which came within weeks following the passage of Sales Tax Measure I, set to bring the City an estimated $21,000,000 a year.

“Just two weeks after the passage of the tax measure, the city is already spending the money,” she said. “ Table your haste.”

Mayor Terry Tornek, however, explained that any new sales tax revenue would not appear in the City’s coffers until at least July 2019 and that the raise comes from the existing budget.

Mermell began working as City Manager on February 15, 2016, following the departure of Michael Beck, for whom he served as Assistant City Manager. Mermell signed his initial employment agreement on August 6, 2016.

The employment agreement amendment becomes effective retroactive to August 6, 2018. It includes a monthly vehicle allowance of $550 for the use of his personal vehicle for City business. There is no mileage reimbursement.

Mermell will also receive a receive a one-time, lump sum Management Incentive payment of $10,000. He will continue making a 10% employee-paid pension contribution to the Public Employees’ Retirement System.

The pay amendment puts Mermell at about the middle of the pack compared to the pay of city managers in most California cities of similar populations.

At about $418,000 in total compensation and benefits, Mermell makes more than his counterparts in Pomona, Fullerton, and Orange. But city managers in Torrance and Victorville outearn Mermell.

In nearby Burbank, the city manager earns $338,493, According to

According to the City’s website, Mermell is the chief administrative officer of the City and is charged with supervising, coordinating, and administering the various functions of the City. He has direct responsibility for all departments, divisions, and offices of the City with the exception of the City Attorney/Prosecutor and City Clerk, which are separately appointed by the City Council.

The elected City Council serves as the City ’s legislative body.


Editor’s Note:  This story originally listed the wages of the city manager of a nearby smaller city, West Covina, which were said to be $340,208. That was an error. In fact, reports City Manager Chris Freeland earned wages of $251,702 and $49,368 in benefits for a total of $301,070 in 2017. We apologize for this error.




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