Mary Jacobs

Oro Valley Town Manager Mary Jacobs

One of the last Oro Valley Town Council actions before leadership changes hands was to give the town manager a $20,000 raise, approved unanimously on Oct. 3. 

Town Manager Mary Jacob’s raise to an annual $180,000 included additional vacation hours, doubling the yearly amount to her retirement savings account to $10,000, and an additional month of severance pay each year, up from seven months.

Jacobs was given the raise after her performance review in September. The performance review is done in executive session and so isn’t public, but outgoing Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath said the raise was well deserved. He said Jacobs will probably get one every year because she’s “just that solid.”

“She’s a rock star,” Hiremath said. “She’ll be a rock star for Oro Valley for a long time.”

Although the mayor and three council members lost their re-elections in August and are stepping down Nov. 7, Hiremath says Jacobs’ raise was not a last-minute hurrah, but just a standard review and raise.

Incoming Mayor Joe Winfield said he’s not yet privy to the reasons why Jacobs received a raise, but he’s only heard good things about her. And he said she should be making as much as others in similar positions. Marana Town Manager Jamsheed Mehta currently makes $188,000 annually, and the two towns have roughly identical populations.

Ken Strobeck, executive director at League of Arizona Cities and Towns, which networks 90 Arizona cities and towns, said Jacobs’ salary might be slightly low compared to a typical city manager for a jurisdiction Oro Valley’s size.

“City managers are very critical in the council-manager form of government,” Strobeck said. “It’s much wiser to pay people in order for them to be happy and stay rather than have a constantly rotating door, which doesn’t do the community any good.”

Before moving to Oro Valley, Jacobs already had a lengthy career in local government. She served as Sierra Vista’s assistant city manager for 17 years. And before that, she was assistant town manager in Barnstable, Massachusetts, for six years. She says she made an agreement when she took her current position to finish out her career as Oro Valley town manager.

Jacobs says her first priority going forward will be helping the incoming council transition. They’ve already started the orientation process and soon the new council will be meeting the team and doing site visits, Jacobs said. And in January, she’ll going over strategic planning with them on the overarching priorities for the next two years.

She says in her first year on the job, she’s been focused on economic development and finding the right organizational structure and leadership for the town. She created the new position of community and economic development director, expanded the town’s partnership with the economic development agency Sun Corridor Inc. and will soon be presenting an economic strategy for the town.

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