Brian Haddix, city manager of Sanger since 2010, jumped to the top bureaucratic job in Chowchilla this week.
Haddix agreed Tuesday to a two-year contract at $140,156 annually plus other benefits. The annual pay jumps another $4,300 if he remains employed through December.
Haddix said some turnover with the Sanger City Council influenced his desire to move to Chowchilla. In December, more than 200 Sanger residents turned out for a public meeting to speak in support of Haddix, whose ouster was being considered by the Sanger City Council.
The Sanger City Council ultimately voted to keep him.
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In Chowchilla, he fills a position that’s been held by an interim for several months.
Chowchilla received about 40 applications for the position, said Laura Crane, an attorney for the city. “(The salary) is reflective of the pay he is receiving in Sanger currently,” she said. “And, he was scheduled to receive a pay raise in July, so it’s actually a slight decrease.”
The City Council unanimously approved the contract. Council Member Richard Walker expressed some reservations in the contract, noting that raises are frozen for all other city employees. He ultimately voted yes.
Mayor John Chavez said the city administrator position is a difficult job, so it requires a high salary. He said Haddix will essentially be on the clock at all times, and answers to the taxpayers. “It’s the cost of doing business,” he said about the salary.
Before working in Sanger, Haddix held public positions in Tulare, Butte and other counties.
Haddix, 60, said he has not decided if he will move to Chowchilla. He lives in Sanger, and Chowchilla by law cannot require that he move.
“I see Chowchilla having a lot of the same enthusiasm and excitement that I saw when I came on board in Sanger,” he said. “I want to keep propelling that forward.”
He said he hopes to use efforts he used in Sanger to lower the unemployment rate and attract business downtown. He said Chowchilla’s proximity to Highway 99 could make it attractive to businesses.
His salary in Chowchilla will be about $4,000 more than the previous city administrator was paid, but less than Haddix made in Sanger. He was paid at a rate of $189,926 annually in the last fiscal year, according to Sanger’s adopted budget.
In September, the Chowchilla City Council reached an agreement with former City Administrator Mark Lewis that began with his immediate resignation. On administrative leave since early that month, Lewis agreed to leave the city after getting a nine-month, $122,525 severance package.
Carolyn Lehr has been the interim city administrator since November.
Haddix is set to begin working June 8, with a swearing-in ceremony the following day.