City council’s compensation offer to Small-Toney

Well we’re nearing the end of a long, long process. Maybe.

Acting city manager Rochelle Small-Toney, oddly using an Atlanta-based law firm, made some pretty ambitious demands of Savannah’s city council, but the mayor and aldermen wisely offered her a much more conservative package.

Check out the terms of their offerr here: “City Council terms offered to Acting City Manager Small-Toney”. She’ll be getting a compensation package similar to former city manager Michael Brown — and he had many years more experience. I suppose it’s possible that there will be some back-and-forth negotiations, but Small-Toney’s credibility is already pretty thin with many folks in power. She would be wise to take the offer as is, pay off her lawyers (a questionable ploy to hire them in the first place), and get to work.

The way I read this, other news outlets have mistakenly implied that there’s a one-year “contract,” when in reality Small-Toney would simply serve as city manager as long as city council is happy (or at least satisfied) with her. With a whole new crop of aldermen being elected this fall, the new council will almost certainly be faced with an early decision about whether to keep her or to begin a new search. We already know that Clifton Jones will not seek re-election, and Jeff Felser has announced that he’s running for the upcoming vacancy of the mayor’s position. Edna Jackson has also indicated that she will run for mayor. So that would leave three aldermanic seats up for grabs in addition to the mayor’s seat. (All in all, at least four of the nine council positions will be held by different people.)

In that political environment, Small-Toney will need to be a firm, steady hand who creates consensus among the elected leaders and among the general population of the city.

I have said repeatedly that Small-Toney might turn out to be perfectly well-qualified once she has the permanent post and once the city moves beyond the racial tension that the mayor and aldermen encouraged more than defused. But I have no particular reason to think that will happen at this point, and her rather stiff compensation demands make me concerned that she is overvaluing the city’s need for her.

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