Does This Small Town City Manager Really Deserve a $216,000 Salary?

James Jonas, City Manager for Crystal City, says his salary is justified. Here’s why.

By Rhonda Fanning & Hady MawajdehOctober 15, 2015 10:02 am

The job of City Manager includes a ton of responsibilities. You’re the liason between elected officials and folks in the community; you have your hands full of city policies and the budget; and you help to run the city.

So what happens when the same folks you’re working for start questioning your salary and decisions, and then some of them start calling for your job? That’s the situation in Crystal City, a small city in south Texas.

City manager James Jonas has been catching a lot of flak over his salary, which Crystal City citizens are saying is too big.

Jonas says that large number comes from the three jobs rolled into one. He’s not just the city manager, he says – he’s also the city attorney and their lobbyist at the state capitol and in Washington, D.C.

“Which is really a great combination and an innovative way to look at government,” Jonas says. “I think other small cities or other communities may look [to it] as a model for the future.”

But the real elephant in the room is what the San Antonio Express-News used in its recent headline: “Townsfolk ready to oust city manager earning $216,000 a year.”

If you look at other small cities nearby, the amount is much less for their city managers. Jonas says what’s not being taken into account is those other job descriptions.

“If you attempt to use my salary, and only compare it to a city manager’s salary, you will get an incomplete picture,” he says. “If you look at those towns and see what they’re paying on legal fees, if you look and see what those towns are paying for advocacy in Austin or Washington on top of their city manager salaries, you would come up with a much much different number.”

Listen to the full interview in the audio player above.