Lakewood to pay new manager $165,000

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TACOMA — John Caulfield will earn a starting salary of $165,000 a year when he begins work as Lakewood's new city manager on Sept. 3.

The City Council unanimously approved Monday night the employment contract with the current Mountlake Terrace city manager, ending a four-month search for the executive to lead daily operations at Pierce County's second-largest city.

Caulfield was not at the meeting and didn't return a message seeking comment that was left before the meeting. The vote was unanimous after the council asked a couple of technical questions about terms of the contract.

Former city manager Andrew Neiditz earned $156,124 a year when he resigned in February, according to his most recent employment contract.

Caulfield's contract with Mountlake Terrace requires him to give a 60-day notice.

The new city manager also will receive $16,000 a year in deferred compensation. Neiditz's deferred compensation was based on 11 percent of his current base salary, or $17,173 when he resigned.

Caulfield, a former University Place deputy city manager, also will receive life insurance, medical and retirement benefits, and a total of 36 paid days off a year for vacation and medical and management leave. In addition, he will receive a $500-a-month car allowance.

Caulfield must relocate to Lakewood within six months of becoming city manager, and the city will make a one-time payment of $10,000 for moving expenses. He would be required to repay some of that money if he left Lakewood after less than three years of employment.

Caulfield would receive six months of severance compensation if the council fires him or seeks his resignation. However, if Caulfield were fired for "just cause," such as "dishonesty in the performance of job duties" or being convicted of a crime "involving moral turpitude," the city would have to pay only compensation and benefits accrued but unpaid at the time of the firing.

The council will review Caulfield's performance after six months, 12 months and at least once annually after that.

The contract is contingent upon the completion of a background check, which may include a site visit to Mountlake Terrace.

Caulfield, 48, was the last person standing after a recruitment process that drew more than 30 people and extended interview requests to six finalists. Three finalists withdrew before the interviews, the council whittled the pool down to two after the interviews, and the withdrawal by deputy Pierce County executive Kevin Phelps left just Caulfield.