AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council members unanimously agreed to part ways with City Manager Spencer Cronk, two city council members told KXAN under the condition they not be named.
The decision was made behind closed doors in executive session Thursday but has not been announced publicly yet. The city manager had no comment, a spokesperson said.
Mayor Kirk Watson ultimately placed an item on Thursday’s agenda to “evaluate” the city manager’s performance, with the backing of a handful of city council members, after overwhelming swaths of Austin Energy customers lost power during last week’s ice storm.
“The members of the City Council had a productive executive session on Thursday night. I’m going to honor that process and won’t comment on the matters that were discussed,” Watson said Friday.
Council members said they were also frustrated with Cronk’s Wednesday night announcement that the Austin Police Association and the city have reached an agreement in principle without looping in city council members.
In December, city council voted to bump Cronk’s base salary to $388,190.40. It was a roughly $38,000 raise, or just under 11%.
Cronk’s severance package — according to a 2018 resolution — includes a year of base pay and six months of COBRA premiums. It’s not clear yet if Cronk opts to resign if that severance will still be paid.
COBRA stands for the “Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985,” a federal law that requires employers to “offer Qualified Beneficiaries the opportunity to continue medical, dental, and vision at their own cost in the case of certain Qualifying Events,” according to the city’s COBRA guide.
The city charter shows the following rules are set in place for terminating the city manager:
- The city manager can be removed by city council using a majority vote.
- If removed after serving six months, the city manager can demand written charges and the right to be heard at a public city council meeting prior to the date of his/her anticipated removal (the council can suspend the city manager from office until that time).
Cronk was hired by the city in late 2017, besting Howard Lazarus, who had a history with the City of Austin as a director for the Public Works Department and interim assistant city manager in 2010. Before he moved to Austin, Cronk worked as the city coordinator for Minneapolis.