Though his job was never really in doubt, Peter Scalera now knows he’ll be firmly ensconced in the Riverside village manager’s office until at least May 18, 2017.
On July 11, the village board unanimously approved a new four-year contract with Scalera, who has served as village manager since October 2009. The contract is retroactive to May 6.
“When we hired Peter, I was one of his main supporters,” said Village President Ben Sells, a trustee at the time. “A lot of it had to do with his temperament. … I feel like Peter will finally be given the opportunity to be village manager because we trust him and empower him to manage the village without being micromanaged.”
The new deal doesn’t come with a raise in salary — Scalera received a 3-percent raise from the village board in February — it does have a couple of new provisions, including a change with regard to a vehicle allowance and severance pay. His annual salary will continue to be $123,361.
According to the contract, Scalera can now use his village-provided vehicle for both business and personal use, with little restriction.
When he was hired in 2009, the vehicle was provided for village business use only. In 2010, that provision was amended to allow Scalera to use the vehicle for “reasonable personal use on weekdays.”
The new contract allows the vehicle to be used for personal use, unless he takes it out of the state, for which he must ask permission and receive consent from the village president in writing.
“Logistically it was a nightmare for him,” said Sells. “He wanted to get out of the box where he had to wait for his wife to come home from work and switch cars.”
But the provision also allows the village board to discontinue the practice of providing a vehicle to the village manager — something Village President Ben Sells has advocated in the past — and replace it with an annual cash allowance for vehicle use.
“Since we just bought [the car in January 2012] we figured we’d just go ahead and use it,” said Sells. “When the time comes to get rid of the car, we’ll go to the vehicle-allowance thing. We want to get out of the vehicle business.”
In Scalera’s original contract, there was also no provision for severance pay, other than accrued vacation and sick days, in the event he was terminated from the job without cause.
Under the new deal if Scalera is fired without cause, in addition to the unused vacation and sick time, he will receive a lump sum payment in the amount of six months’ salary. And for a minimum of six months (no maximum is specified in the contract) following termination without cause, the village must pay for its portion of family health insurance and life insurance premiums.
The provision essentially serves as protection against politically motivated termination. According to Sells, such provisions “are very standard language in public contracts.”
One other change to the contract was an amendment to the section regarding vacation days. In 2010, Scalera’s contract was amended to specify that he would be given 20 vacation days per year. That section has been amended again, tying his vacation time to the vacation time allotted to other director-level employees.