Despite being fired by the City Council in a 10-1 vote, Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk will still collect $463,000 from taxpayers on his way out the door, adding to the $500,000+ he already received for his last year’s work, according to our Open The Books investigation.
Cronk, who has been Austin City Manager since 2018, was fired due to his office’s slow and ineffective response to a power outage caused by a winter storm that left thousands of Austin residents without electricity for a week or longer.
Cronk’s office spent over $122,000 on a “Get Ready Central Texas” campaign, which attempted to raise awareness for emergencies and disasters by hosting fairs, distributing emergency kits, and launching an advertising campaign, though residents and city officials were still blindsided by the extended power outages.
The Associated Press reports that city officials “for days gave few updates about the widespread outages and no assurances about how long repairs would take.” The Associated Press also noted that “slow restoration efforts left thousands of people dealing with school closures, malfunctioning traffic lights and the financial pinch of spoiled groceries and hotel bills.”
Open The Books found the city employs 173 public relations and communications employees costing taxpayers $13 million per year. There were plenty of city resources, but the willingness to communicate in a crisis was lacking.
Despite the frustration at his response, Cronk’s “golden parachute” contract provision ensured that he received a large compensation package over the past year. That includes his $388,190 base salary, another estimated $132,000 in additional benefits like health insurance and executive perquisites, and a severance payment of $463,000. That’s a lot of money to be woefully unprepared for crises expected based on past events.
Salaries for critical administrative positions should be competitive to attract talented individuals. But they should come with increased scrutiny and oversight to ensure those individuals are doing their jobs.
The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com
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