Not including the cost of travel and conferences paid by taxpayers, Cronk will make nearly $1 million for the previous 12-months of work: 1. $520,000 from his regular compensation package and 2. a $463,000 severance payment.
Austin’s City Council fired City Manager Spencer Cronk amid outrage at the slow and bungled response to a winter storm power outage that left thousands of people without electricity for a week or longer — but gave him a $463,000 golden parachute.
To prevent pandemonium from the very type of storm that hit Austin, in FY 2022, Cronk’s office spent $122,000 on Get Ready Central Texas Campaign, according to credit card spending records provided to OpenTheBooks.com via a Texas Public Information Act request.
It’s an emergency preparedness campaign that uses advertising and fairs to prepare Austin residents for emergencies and disasters, including giving them supplies to build an emergency supply kit.
That type of spending didn’t seem to help city officials provide updates to the 700,000 residents without power after the ice storm toppled trees and power lines, causing damage akin to a hurricane or tornado, Austin officials said.
The City Council voted 10-2 on Wednesday to end Cronk’s contract with the city and paying him the large sum, The Associated Press reported. Temporarily Jesús Garza will replace Cronk on an interim basis, as he had previously served as Austin’s city manager.
Contractual Pay and Severance
Cronk was earning $388,190 base salary as city manager, and received the maximum annual deferred compensation contributions allowed by the IRS, which in 2022 was $20,500, according to his contract.
Cronk received $7,200 annual executive allowance, $1,845 cell phone allowance annually and $500 annual co-pay reimbursement, bringing his total pay to at least $420,000.
Adding the cost of benefits such as health insurance, paid time off, and the taxpayer contribution into Cronk’s public pension retirement plan brings total taxpayer cost to more than $520,000 annually.
Cronk’s contract permitted him to accrue two vacation days per month, up to 10 weeks, with the ability to cash out up to six weeks of unused days upon leaving his city post.
The contract called for a severance payout of 12 months base salary, plus six months cash for monthly COBRA health insurance premiums, along with cashing in unused days, totaling $463,000, according to the AP.
Cronk’s office spent at least $132,000 for he and his staff to attend conferences in Washington D.C., Las Vegas, San Diego, Miami, Nashville, Boston, Baltimore, New Orleans, Tucson, Portland, OR, Charlotte, NC, Columbus, OH and more.
The city manager’s office paid for airfare, hotels, meals, transportation to and from the airport, parking, event registration and other conference fees and expenses, spending records show.
A city spokesperson didn’t respond to our request for comment by our deadline.