City Council Renews Manager's Contract

CCA Splits; Healy Given Two-Year Extension

After months of arduous public evaluation and tense city council meetings. City Manager Robert W. Healy can breathe a sigh of relief.

The city council voted 6.3 last week to extend Healy's contract, which expires in June, for an additional two years. Healy, who has been city manager of Cambridge since 1981, has said that he will accept the contract.

Councillor Edward N. Cyr and Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves '72, both members of the CCA, voted with the four Independents on the council to extend the contract Councillors Francis H. Duehay '55, Jonathan S. Myers and Alice K. Wolf voted against the contract.

The councillors said that the issue which divided them was the length of the contract and the manager's accountability.

Councillor Sheila T. Russell, who said she has always been a supporter of the city manager, said the city is currently undertaking long term projects such as the development of the new facility for Cambridge Hospital which would benefit from the continuity of the city manager.


Duehay, who also said he was a supporter of the city manager, said he opposed the contract because of its length. "I actually was prepared to vote for a one-year extension of the contract," he said.

Duehay said he favored a one-year contract because it was long enough for the manager to complete his work but short enough to hold the manager accountable for his actions.

"I felt that there were some urgent issues that had to be paid attention to and I think that giving him a year would have given him ample time," Duehay said.

But Councillor William H. Walsh said a shorter contract would mean that the city's operations would be negatively influenced by the prevailing political climate. "The longer the contract, the less the political interference," Walsh said.

Duehay opposed a two year contract is particular because it makes the contract expire on an election year. He says this makes it practically impossible to replace a city manager that has not been working up to the council's expectations.

"There is a four or five month search process that has to occur," Duehay said. "It's very difficult to do that with an election looming."

Wolf agreed that it is "very bad" to have a contract decision on an election year. "The next city council should be able to decide," Wolf said. "In this two year contract, basically they won't be able to."

Wolf said that although she thinks "the critics in the evaluation overdid their criticisms" she still would have liked to move on. "I believe a change of pace at this time is appropriate," she said.

The contract awarded to Healy has provisions similar to his previous deal. The city manager's salary will be decided according to the municipal pay scale Healy's salary for 1993 is $121,302, making him one of the highest paid municipal officials in the state.