Posted: Monday, August 5, 2013 12:12 pm | Updated: 7:33 am, Tue Aug 6, 2013.

The compensation offered to the candidate for Santa Ana’s new city manager could be more than $500,000 annually during a three-year contract, easily putting his pay in the top tier among city managers in the state, according to figures released by the city.

And when City Council members decided in closed session to hire David Cavazos, city manager of Phoenix, the decision wasn’t announced immediately after the closed-door meeting, a violation of the state’s open government law known as the Ralph M. Brown Act, according to Terry Francke, general counsel with for group Californians Aware and Voice of OC’s open government consultant.

The Council is expected to vote on Cavazos’ pay package tonight in open session.

According to city documents, Cavazos would earn $558,625.85 his first year, $515,395.08 his second year and $515,895.08 his third year. The annual compensation includes his $315,000 annual base salary plus retirement, medical insurance, life insurance, relocation allowance, temporary housing and time-off costs.

Santa Ana, a city with a bare-bones budget that has struggled to maintain basic public services and narrowly avoided municipal bankruptcy, has become accustomed to large payouts to high-ranking managers.

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