Irvine City Council members this week renewed a two-year contract agreement with City Manager Sean Joyce, ending previous speculation that Joyce’s tenure was in jeopardy.

The terms of the contract have changed little compared to Joyce’s previous agreement with the city. Joyce will receive an annual salary of $250,307.20 plus benefits, including a maximum of 600 hours in unused vacation time, which he can cash out at the end of employment, and a vehicle provided by the city.

Sources close to City Hall have described relations between Joyce and most City Council members as strained, pointing to Mayor Sukhee Kang as Joyce’s only stalwart supporter.

In one email made public last year, Councilwoman Beth Krom criticized Joyce for how he dealt then- Councilwoman Christina Shea’s demands to place items on meeting agendas.

Council members and Joyce, however, appear to have worked things out in closed session over the past couple of months. Still, the only two to offer up positive reviews of Joyce from the dais were Kang and Councilman Larry Agran.

Kang and Agran both lauded Joyce’s ability to steer the city through the dire financial impacts of the Great Recession in recent years. Joyce was credited with crafting a three-year “bridge plan,” which allowed the city to maintain core services and avoid layoffs through fiscal year 2010-11 by leveraging reserve funds and implementing targeted cuts.

“Being fiscally responsible in providing strategic leadership to staff and support for the City Council is certainly a job well done,” Kang said.

While Agran also praised Joyce’s fiscal leadership, he also noted that Joyce came under heavy scrutiny during council reviews.

“We actually undertook a very thorough evaluation of the city manager’s performance, as I think our responsibility is as a council,” Agran said.

Yet just as council members were approving Joyce’s contract, Krom also had poignant questions about what happens in the event he is fired.

Kang noted that there was a “misunderstanding” regarding a provision of his contract offered Joyce a payout if he was terminated without cause.

Krom disputed whether Joyce would receive a full payout of his contract if he was fired, as opposed to a smaller amount.

City Attorney Phil Kohn noted that the contract provision was no different than what was included in Joyce’s previous contract, and council members didn’t discuss it further.


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