At a special-called meeting on Tuesday, the Auburn City Council unanimously approved the contract for incoming City Manager Megan McGowen Crouch, who will step into the role at the beginning of February.
Crouch, who will be Auburn's fifth city manager since the city switched to the council-manager form of government, will be paid an annual base salary of $215,000, according to the contract, which can be viewed in full in the online version of this article on the Auburn Villager website.
Crouch will also receive a $650 per month vehicle allowance, which will increase by $25 a month for each year served as city manager, with the contract renewing every Feb. 1.
Crouch, who currently serves as assistant city manager and chief operating officer, will take over for Jim Buston, who has served in the position since early 2017 and announced his retirement in October after 25 years working with the city.
Buston voiced his support for Crouch in October, saying "no one will work harder for Auburn."
"Her work ethic combined with her education, certifications and years of experience in planning, economic development and city operations make her uniquely qualified for this position. I couldn't be more comfortable than to leave the city's administration in her hands because I know that she is passionate about doing what's best for Auburn," he said.
Crouch will be responsible for overseeing the city's 647 full-time employees, roughly $173 million in annual budgeted funds, $205 million capital improvement plan, and delivery of city services, including Public Works, Public Safety, Economic Development and Planning departments, among others.
"The city manager's job in a city like Auburn that is growing — and we expect to be over 70,000 when the Census is done —is an enormous responsibility, and it's important for all of us to remember exactly what the city manager has to do on a daily basis," said Auburn Mayor Ron Anders, who said the standalone meeting to approve the contract was appropriate because Crouch would be only the city's fifth city manager.
Council members have had the opportunity to review the contract individually and provide input over the past weeks.
"I would just like to thank you for holding to what you stated you would do, reaching out to all the council members, including us in the process and giving us the opportunity to get into the weeds and ask questions and acknowledge where we are in the process. You stated you would do that and I appreciate you holding true to those promises," said Ward 3 City Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem Beth Witten to Anders at Tuesday's meeting.
The Council and mayor opted to hire an internal candidate instead of conducting a national search, with Anders citing Crouch's qualifications for the job during a work session in October.
"It's my belief that that person needs to be someone who is a hard worker, who has experience in the arena of municipal government and has played multiple roles in that arena, who can communicate with all peoples in the community, whether they're university leadership, city leadership, parents, employees or us, the elected officials," said Anders. "The choice is obvious; the choice is right here before us; it is my belief that that choice is Megan McGowen Crouch."
Other local civic, business and university leaders also voiced their full-throated support for Crouch during the Citizens' Communication portion of the Council's second meeting in October.
"I recommend her without reservations," said AuburnBank President Bob Dumas.
Crouch began her career with the city of Auburn as an intern while she worked on a master's degree at Auburn University.
She moved into numerous roles with the city over the years in the Planning and Economic Development departments, serving as the executive director of development services before assuming her current position as assistant city manager.