San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley declined to accept a performance bonus for her work in 2018, she said Monday in an email to the Rivard Report.
Sculley, who announced her retirement last month after 13 years as the City’s top executive, was eligible for a bonus of up to $100,000 for her work in 2018 on top of her $475,000 salary and other benefits for the year.
“Although the Council previously developed and approved the criteria for awarding 2018 performance pay and much has been accomplished this year, I had already communicated to the Mayor that I will forego any performance pay for 2018,” Sculley wrote. “When I announced my retirement, I agreed to stay to ensure an orderly transition to the new city manager.”
Mayor Ron Nirenberg praised Sculley’s performance in a separate email on Monday.
“Sheryl Sculley has been a top-notch city manager with a public service mindset,” Nirenberg wrote. “Today is no different. We are grateful for her service to the people of San Antonio.”
Her tenure and compensation has long been the topic of controversy, most recently led by the firefighters union and Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6). On Nov. 6, voters overwhelmingly approved a union-backed city charter amendment that limits future city manager tenure and compensation. On the Council, Brockhouse was the sole supporter of that and two other charter changes on the ballot. He called for her resignation days after two of the three changes were approved.
“That’s the right decision,” Brockhouse told the Rivard Report when informed of Sculley’s email. “The public spoke loud and clear with that vote. … I have to give thanks [to her] for listening to the will of the people.”
City Council is slated to discuss her performance review and bonus this Wednesday during a closed executive session, where such discussions traditionally take place. Surveys regarding her performance were due Nov. 30 from each Council member. That survey was put in place as a temporary way to establish metrics until those by a third-party firm are created next year. That review process will proceed, Nirenberg said.
“The city manager is entitled to an annual, professional performance evaluation, and it is the council’s responsibility to provide it,” he said.
Brockhouse, who was elected to represent Council District 6 in 2017 and will likely run for mayor next year, called for more transparency this year before she was awarded $75,000 for her 2017 performance and continued that call on Monday with a news release sent earlier Monday afternoon.
“As a reminder, no decisions or action can be taken in executive session, so the only place to award a bonus is in a public forum. Last year I did not support a bonus and I will not be supporting one this year,” Brockhouse wrote. “If a bonus is awarded, the City Manager should consider the example set by SAWS CEO Robert Puente’s refusal to accept bonus compensation in light of intense public backlash.”
Puente was offered a $96,500 bonus for his work in 2017, but he turned it down in March.
Many City leaders credit Sculley with professionalizing the city’s government while bolstering economic and infrastructure development. During her tenure she’s overseen major increases in bond programs and projects and elevated San Antonio’s bond rating to AAA, making it the only city of at least 1 million people to achieve and maintain that rating from all three major bond rating agencies.
Her last day with the City of San Antonio will be no later than June 30. Nirenberg has said he will be working with his Council colleagues on a process to select a new city manager and that there are several strong internal candidates.
“I know Sheryl Sculley to be a conscientious professional,” Councilman Manny Pelaez (D8) said. “That she waived her much deserved pay is evidence that she cares about San Antonio and doesn’t want there to be any distractions as we undertake the public process of transitioning from Sheryl’s tenure to the beginning of our next manager’s leadership.”
Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales (D5), who has not always supported Sculley’s bonuses or pay increases, said she tries to be “very thorough about [Sculley’s] performance year to year.”
“The City has been able to maintain its bond rating and the Citizens are happy with services,” Gonzales said, citing an independent survey released last week.