The Chandler City Council appears ready to rehire ousted City Manager Mark Pentz today over the objections of two councilmen.
Pentz said Wednesday he will return to work July 17 if the council approves a new contract for him that includes a 4 percent raise, reimbursement of legal fees and missed retirement payments, and an increase in severance benefits should he leave his job again.
Councilmen Martin Sepulveda and Matt Orlando, Pentz’s only critics left on the council, both acknowledged Wednesday that the new contract will likely be approved. The council voted 5-2 June 8 to allow Mayor Boyd Dunn to negotiate with Pentz to return to his old job.
“I am looking to go forward with this,” Orlando said, “though I disagree with the concept fundamentally.”
Orlando and Sepulveda were two of four council members dissatisfied with Pentz’s performance during a ninehour job review that lasted until 2:30 a.m. April 11. The other two council members, Phill Westbrooks and Donna Wallace, left after their terms expired June 8. The council ultimately voted 5-2 to go with a separation agreement brokered by Pentz’s personal attorney. Dunn, who also voted in favor of the agreement, said later he did so to get Pentz the best deal possible.
The new contract would essentially undo that separation agreement. Dunn said “taxpayers are coming out ahead” since the city would otherwise be on the hook for the full $304,000 in pay and benefits Pentz was to receive under the agreement.
Sepulveda said paying Pentz’s legal fees is “absolutely ludicrous.”
“I understand majority wins,” he said. “Mr. Pentz appears to have a majority of the council in his favor to tender a contract, but now my question is, how fair is this contract?”
Pentz is expected to attend tonight’s meeting and said he is confident he can work with Sepulveda and Orlando.
“I continue meeting with them and treating them like everyone else,” Pentz said. “And hopefully they’ll respond accordingly.”
But Orlando, who criticized Pentz’s ability to work with others during his job review, questioned how smooth Pentz’s return will be.
“The real question is this, can Mark work with Martin and I?” he said. “Is Mark going to be punitive against the members that spoke out against him?”
Chandler City Council meeting
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Chandler Downtown Public Library, 22 S. Delaware St., second floor