Auburn Mayor Ron Anders has extended the contract of City Manager Jim Buston for one more year, ending in December 2020.

Buston was appointed as city manager in August 2017, after serving as interim city manager since that February. His initial contract was to last through December 2019. In Buston's contract extension, a pay increase of $20,000 was included. His new salary is $215,000 per year.

Anders said he asked Buston in December if he would be willing to stay for one more year. Under city ordinance, the mayor has the authority to negotiate the city manager's contract. Anders said he did reach out to all council members to inform them of his intentions and to talk to them about the decision.

"As the mayor of this community, it is always incumbent of me to try to do what I think is in the best interest of our town," Anders said. "With us having a number of department heads that will be retiring very soon, I felt like having the stability of a city manager in place who understood the process of replacing those department heads would be very important."

He added that without the contract extension, the council would be faced with finding a replacement for Buston this year, likely having to start that process this summer.

"Frankly, I don't know if I'm far enough along to lead that process right now. So having him here for one more year gives us a little bit more opportunity to further glean and understand the role of city manager and the kind of person we would like to choose to replace Jim Buston."

Discussion about the city manager's contract was brought up during the Committee of the Whole by Councilman Kelley Griswold, who had procedural questions and said he would like to see the City Council have more involvement in decisions regarding the city manager's contract. Councilman Bob Parsons agreed that more language could be included in future contracts to address different scenarios.

As it stands now, the mayor has unlimited authority when negotiating the city manager's contract. Typically, agreements costing more than $15,000 will come before the council for a vote, but in this case, the mayor has the authority to make decisions regarding the city manager's contract independent of the council.

Ultimately, the council came to consensus that when the process begins to search for a new city manager in 2020, the body will then have the opportunity to deliberate new contract language.

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