City manager contract approved despite one objection

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10:50 a.m. on Wednesday, July 30.

An employment agreement with City Manager Nancy Ridley was passed by a 5-1 vote, with commissioner Kathleen Ling being the sole vote against. Vice Mayor Jim Holton and Commissioner Jon Joslin were absent.

Ling said she “agonized” over the decision, but felt unable to approve the contract because she believed the compensation package was too high in light of financial issues in the city over the last six years. She also argued that the rationale for the increase was inconsistent with how compensation packages have been determined in the past.

“I want to make sure that it is clear to Ms. Ridley and the public that this is in no way an indication that I don’t want to enter a contract with Ms. Ridley,” Ling said. “I think she is doing a great job and will continue to do a great job.”

Commissioner Matthew Sous said he had similar concerns but felt ultimately the negotiation committee had drafted a “pretty good agreement” and was prepared to accept it. Sous hoped with the contract’s approval, the City Commission could finally move forward past the hiring process.

Mayor Sharon Tilmann agreed with Sous and clarified how the increase in the compensation package occurred. Tilmann said the consultant suggested a considerably higher salary range, because historically the salary range for the City Manager has been “quite extremely low.”

In addition, Tilmann said the city looked at the consultant’s recommendation and the history of prior contracts. Ridley had also declined a salary raise for three years because it would have put her above what the previous city manager was making at that time.

These factors contributed to raising the salary range midway from what the negotiation committee determined to be acceptable because they could not afford the full amount.

Tilmann said the contract “was perfectly in keeping with what Ms. Ridley deserves and also in keeping with what is in the best interests of the City of Mount Pleasant”