Seven weeks after beginning City Manager Alan Tandy's yearly performance evaluation, the Bakersfield City Council finished it in a 110-minute closed session during a rare special meeting Wednesday, finally reaffirming its support for the city's top official of 22 years.
The council also unanimously approved 1.5 percent cost-of-living raises and the requirement of half-percent retirement contributions from the 64 members of Bakersfield's management unit, including department heads -- and Tandy.
"We had a nice round of discussions and his contract will remain in place and we'll now continue," said Vice Mayor Ken Weir after the council's decision to retain Tandy was announced. "I'm very happy to have that behind us."
Weir -- the only council member who discussed the decision from the dais -- explained the delay by describing the council as "diverse," made up of members with varying years of service.
"When you put a group together like that, sometimes it takes some time ... for that group to function very well and move things forward in the way things need to happen," said Weir, who apologized to Tandy for the hold-up, saying, "I will do everything I can to make sure nothing like that ever happens again."
Asked how he felt about his contract being renewed, Tandy said afterward: "I enjoy working here and I have a lot of things to work on -- the police study, (the Thomas Roads Improvement Program), and other projects and I'm looking forward to it."
"Don't forget your top priority," joked Ward 4 Councilman Bob Smith, slapping Tandy on the shoulder as he left.
"The Friant-Kern (Canal) Bike Path. Got it," Tandy said, smiling.
The council had delayed the COLA raises and pension adjustments during its regular meeting one week earlier, not wanting to give the city manager a raise while he was still being evaluated.
Instead, the council temporarily separated Tandy and members of the management unit from nearly 1,400 other staffers -- withholding their COLA raises and pension adjustments until Tandy's evaluation could be completed, but affirming those eventually would be paid retroactively.
A major sticking point in completing Tandy's evaluation had been unresolved questions about Tandy's employment contract -- including the section requiring the city to give him whatever salary and pension adjustments it gives management unit members.
City Attorney Ginny Gennaro said she had asked for and received legal advice in writing on the council's questions from Bakersfield law firm Clifford & Brown, which advises the city on several legal areas including personnel issues.
Gennaro declined to reveal the exact nature of the advice because Tandy's evaluation is a personnel matter.
Council members expressed chagrin July 16 at having to consider the issue of the city manager's job performance in open session before a live audience -- when this and other personnel decisions are normally conducted during closed session.
Instead of waiting until the next regularly scheduled council meeting Aug. 13, Gennaro said in an interview that Weir contacted her at the request of other council members to ask a special meeting be scheduled.
"He just called and indicated there was a desire to set a special meeting, and he has the ability to do that under the (city) charter, so the (city) clerk called around to see when everyone had available time and tonight's the night," Gennaro said.
As a result of Wednesday's pension adjustments, Tandy's adjusted yearly salary is $239,287.32.
He also continues to receive a car allowance of $304.74 per pay period, or about $609.49 per month, and medical, dental and vision benefits, with the city paying 80 percent of his medical premiums, as well as a pension.
Tandy must now contribute a half percent of his own salary toward his pension -- or $1,196.44 per year -- but since 2007 he has earned an additional $20,500 per year in deferred compensation and may convert 7 percent of that into salary at any time during the year.
In other words, Tandy may convert up to $16,502.59 of his deferred compensation into actual salary during a calendar year.
Ward 2 Councilman Terry Maxwell said he objected to the section of Tandy's contract linking him to management COLA and pension adjustments -- and to the deferred compensation section as well.
Maxwell said he voted against retaining Tandy based on this, making the closed session vote 6-1.
"Here we worked so hard on that and we have the head guy and he has the ability to add a certain amount to his salary, which is what we base his pension on," Maxwell said. "I think his contract should have been changed, but six people disagree with me."
This isn't the only time Tandy's evaluation has stretched out.
In a recent interview, 4th District Kern County Supervisor David Couch said there was at least one time during his tenure representing Ward 4 in Bakersfield when Tandy's yearly evaluation took longer than one closed session meeting.
Couch's tenure immediately preceded that of Smith, who was elected in November 2012 after Couch became a supervisor.
Gennaro, who has been Bakersfield's city attorney for a decade, said she could not recall a time when Tandy's evaluation ever required a special council meeting to complete.