Jerene Watson had the “interim” tag removed from her title as city manager and was unanimously approved to be the city manager for the next year starting Monday, July 29.
The approval came at a special Douglas City Council meeting held on Monday, July 29 at City Hall.
Watson’s interim agreement with Douglas expired on July 28. With the new agreement, she will be paid an annual salary of $115,000 plus receive a housing and car allowance not to exceed $1,500 per month. The city will not pay any health insurance for her as she is already covered by her retirement health coverage. Benefits that will be paid however include short-term disability coverage, Workman’s Compensation and life insurance in the amount of one and a half times the annual base salary.
A flexible work schedule was included with Watson’s agreement with a minimum of three days a week in the city and the rest, remotely. Due to the one-year agreement Watson states she will not seek any payout or termination severance/payments.
“Mayor and members of the council I am really honored that you would like me to stay another year,” Watson said. “My intent is to be here to help Douglas. I have felt a love for this city since the first month I was here. I’m honored and grateful that you all gave me this chance. I’m committed to giving 110 percent just like I have been.”
Douglas’ residents Jesus and Tanya Duarte expressed their concern that Watson is now a city employee and yet allowed be allowed to live outside the city stated boundary of 60 miles.
“If she wants to sign an agreement to be employed by the city, she should have the same requirements as all other city employees,” Tanya said. “She should have to live in the city or least in the miles that we now allow. She should not get a living expense.”
Duarte admitted its hard to find a city manager nowadays but the same can be said for a police officer, firefighter or other city employees.
“Are we going to give each of them a $1,500 a month living allowance,” she asked? “It’s setting a really bad precedent to be giving certain city employees extra living money and tell them they don’t have to live here all the time. That’s not right and it’s not fair to the other city employees.”
Councilman Shelton praised Watson for the job that she has done since coming on board but also expressed some frustration regarding all the negativity.
“This is a very important night,” he said. “We can go out of here with hate or we can out of here with love and determination to make this go. We need to come together as a community and stop this moaning and groaning. She is going to help us. She has a lot of capabilities; all this knowledge that we need to take advantage of.”