ANTIOCH -- After a decade of steep highs and lows while at the helm, the city's top administrator plans to step down.
Jim Jakel, Antioch's city manager since December 2003, is staying on until the end of the year while the City Council works on finding a replacement.
As part of Jakel staying on, City leaders Tuesday night will consider giving him additional pay during his last six months on the job -- $2,750 per month in retention payment and $3,533 in monthly deferred compensation payments.
The monthly payments would not be included in calculations of Jakel's retirement payment formula, according to a city staff report. Jakel's current base salary is $200,628, which includes a 10-percent across-the-board decrease in city salaries since 2009 because of furloughs and a 3-percent raise all managers received on Jan. 1 in return for payment of 8 percent of their retirement costs.
Mayor Pro Tem Mary Rocha said after lengthy discussion, it was decided to keep Jakel on because of his knowledge of city affairs.
"He took the cuts himself and was willing to work with a city going down the drain," said Rocha, noting how managers in other cities were paid more the past few years. "In a way, it feels like we're making up for it."
A longtime public and private sector policy administrator, Jakel's career will end where it started.
"I guess there's some destiny in that," said Jakel, 57, who started in Antioch as a junior planner in 1980.
Jakel worked in Alameda and later Martinez, serving as that city's manager from 1990 to 1996. Before returning to Antioch, Jakel was executive director of the Contra Costa Council, an economic development advocacy group.
When Jakel started his second Antioch stint on Dec. 1, 2003, the city was nearing the apex of its growth. Property and sales tax were booming, setting record highs. New shopping centers were sprouting up on the southeast side of town while home prices soared.
"Every day I drive to work, and just think about progress I see on Highway 4 and eBART, those are the things I'll remember," Jakel said. "To have a community center that is now two years old. When I got here, it was just a goal and plans on a piece of paper."
Jakel's most trying time as manager came after the abrupt collapse in the nation's housing market sent city finances crashing into a tailspin. By 2010, Antioch's once-robust budget of $47 million dropped to near $34 million.
"It's been a pretty sobering tale," said Jakel, crediting the perseverance and dedication of city staff for helping the city survive.
Thrice forced to make the difficult decision to lay off employees, city staffing now has a vacancy rate of over 40 percent. Jakel also worked to help the city stave off bankruptcy by negotiating millions in concessions from employee groups, including cuts to employee compensation and retirement benefits, and initiating Friday furloughs.
"Throughout his whole time, you really felt like he was giving straight answers, and handled everybody evenly," Rocha said.
Jakel has quietly mentioned for some time his plans to retire after the most recent election if it was the new council's desire -- offering to stay on so they wouldn't have to rush to pick a successor.
"Hopefully, the person that comes in as (the city) is coming off the bottom and can build up a strong team," he said.
Jakel plans to pursue some kind of "new adventure" while still healthy, likely in the wine or hospitality field.
City leaders will soon pick a consulting firm to help recruit manager candidates.
Residential input on what they would like to see in a city manager will also be part of the selection process,
Mayor Wade Harper said earlier this month.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.