In a surprising move Wednesday night, the Madera City Council pulled a scheduled public hearing from its agenda and did not vote to accept recently renegotiated contracts for city department heads, saying only the item was referred back to staff, after several months of reportedly intense and late closed session discussions.
The new, reduced contract offers had already been accepted and signed by city department heads, and reflected small reductions in overall total compensation packages for most employees, reductions in severance, leave accrual and cash-out policies, the elimination of car allowances, freezing of longevity pay, and lifetime health insurance for some employees with less than 20 years of service. The contracts also reduced some of the city contributions to the Public Employee Retirement System (aka PERS), and increased the employees’ contribution portions for others. Previous contracts will continue to be in force until amended.
Residents had previously objected to the higher-than-average Madera city salaries and characterized the current contract reductions as token amounts after the new contracts were posted on the city website.
Some residents also reminded the new council members at public comment and through emails Wednesday night, they had run on platforms of change, been recently elected or reelected to make more serious reductions or even clean house of past salary largess at the city, and residents would not continue to support any council members who failed to do so.