DOWNEY - The City Council on Tuesday approved a contract that ensures Gilbert Livas will take the reins as city manager when Gerald Caton retires next year.Livas and the City Council had agreed to a memorandum of understanding last March that called for Livas to take over when Caton retires Dec. 31, 2011. On Tuesday, the council approved Livas's employment contract, which calls for an annual salary of $220,000 plus "benefits consistent with those provided to management employees of the city." City officials called the contract standard for city managers of comparable cities. Benefits include health insurance for Livas and his dependents, with the yearly premium paid for by the city; civic club memberships up to $1,200 per year; nine days of "executive leave" per year; 12 sick days per year, which may be cashed out yearly; 20 vacation days per year, which may also be accrued and cashed; and a vehicle for "exclusive and unrestricted use," with insurance and maintenance costs paid by the city. The contract also states it is the city's "intent" to pay Livas at least 10% more than the next highest-paid city employee. Livas's salary may be increased every year beginning Jan. 15, 2013 to maintain the 10% differential. As is standard with all its full-time employees, Downey will also pay Livas's portion of cost of membership in CalPERS, the state retirement system. Speaking at Tuesday's City Council meeting, Caton said the city made a "wise choice" in choosing Livas and his replacement. "It's nice to know…the city will be left in good hands," Caton said. Livas, who lives in Whittier, holds a master's degree in public administration from Cal State Long Beach and a bachelor's in political science from UCLA. After working as a private consultant, he began a career in public service when he took a job with Bell Gardens in the redevelopment sector. "Believe me, Downey is really a well-run city," Livas told The Downey Patriot in an intervie earlier this year. "We have a great City Council, a great city administration, a great staff to work with. I consider it of critical importance, granted that we first take care of the essentials, safety, public works, community development, community services, and so on, how we treat the public. And thus the importance of customer service." "A lot of what I do now is help the city manager implement the courses of action mandated by Council policy and those naturally arising from day-to-day functional demands," Livas continued. "In this, in interacting with Council and the department heads, effective communication is key. I see myself as a conduit between these elements, but ready to offer new thoughts and ideas to further Gerry's programs. Because of my background, I can contribute my inputs while he's still here." Caton publicly announced his retirement last year. He has been Downey's city manager for 22 years. "It has been my pleasure to serve as Downey's city manager for one-third of the city's history. Having a succession plan in place is very positive for our elected officials and employees," Caton said in March. "I know Gilbert will be an exceptional city manager for Downey." Reporting by Eric Pierce and Henry Veneracion.
********** Published: October 14, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 26