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Citrus Heights council members defend $12k bonus for city manager

Sentinel staff report–
Following a performance review of the city manager’s first year, Citrus Heights council members voted unanimously this month to approve a $12,000 bonus payment to City Manager Ash Feeney.

The one-time, $12,000 bonus amounts to 5% of Feeney’s base pay of $240,000, not including the additional value of his benefits package. A staff report for the April 13 agenda item to approve the payment noted the council’s “positive evaluation” of Feeney and said the city manager’s employment contract does not have any “automatic cost-of-living allowances or any built-in raises.”

The report also noted the payment would be a “non-PERSable event,” meaning the payment will not increase the city’s annual retirement obligation through the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.

Although no public discussion occurred during the April 13 council meeting where the bonus payment was approved as part of a batch of consent items, The Sentinel reached out to several council members who had been active in opposing the Measure M sales tax proposal in 2020 and have spoken out against high salaries paid to top city employees in the past.

Jayna Karpinski-Costa, who recently won election to the council last year, previously wrote a column in 2020, saying of the city: “What gripes my gizzard… are the high salaries we pay — with no more benefit to the community than a workforce at half the price.”

Mayor Tim Schaefer was also a vocal opponent of Measure M, speaking at one point at an event in front of City Hall that highlighted large salaries and benefits packages paid to top city employees.

In a guest column published April 25 in The Sentinel, Schaefer defended his vote to approve the $12,000 payment to Feeney, noting that the prior city manager’s total compensation was around $400,000 per year — while Feeney’s pay is significantly less.

“Ultimately, I voted to grant a one-time 5% bonus calculated on base salary only, which does not increase the City’s ongoing salary and retirement contribution costs for this position,” wrote Schaefer, praising the city manager’s work to pay off the city’s $12 million line of credit and building up reserves. “In my humble opinion this was a reasonable and modest incentive and reward for work well done.”

Schaefer also said when selecting a new city manager, he made a requirement that any candidate seeking compensation exceeding $300,000 a year “would not receive my support.” He said Feeney agreed to the terms and received Schaefer’s vote of support.

A Sentinel review of several other similarly sized cities shows the City of Livermore in 2021 paid its city manager base pay of $287,144, with an additional $150,000 in other wages and benefits. The City of Folsom paid its city manager base pay of $249,413, plus more than $150,000 in additional wages and benefits, according to

Related: Citrus Heights becomes a debt-free city again

Karpinski-Costa also defended her vote in favor of the payment to Feeney, calling his performance “outstanding.”

Feeney is what we need for our city,” the councilwoman said in an email following the April 13 council meeting. “When he compares what other city managers make (and I am sure they all do), I am honored that he chooses to deploy his talents in Citrus Heights.”

Feeney was appointed City Manager of Citrus Heights on Jan. 22, 2022, replacing Chris Boyd, who served as the city’s manager since 2016 when he replaced Henry Tingle.

Guest Opinion: Why I voted to give our city manager a $12k bonus

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