Tom Modica appointed city manager in unanimous vote

Tom Modica officially became Long Beach’s next city manager after the City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve his contract, which stripped away the “acting” tag that he’d held since September.

Modica was tapped to serve as the acting city manager in August after former City Manager Pat West announced he would be retiring. Modica started his career with the city in 2002 as a management assistant before working in government affairs and moving on to the assistant city manger role that he held for five and a half years.

He was appointed to the acting position while the city began a search to find a permanent successor to West who had served as city manager since 2007. On Tuesday he was officially appointed to the permanent position.

“I’m just so fortunate to have such an amazing team at the city,” Modica said. “Our employees are second to none.”

Modica’s contract shows he’ll have an annual salary of $290,656 not including fringe benefits like retirement and pension, sick leave and vacation time. Five percent of Modica’s pay is contingent on his living in Long Beach, meaning if Modica moves out of the city his salary could be cut.

Annual raises for Modica will be based on the “most recent upward change” in the Consumer Price Index for the Los Angeles Metro area.

The contract also includes severance clauses if Modica is terminated by the council in the first 24 months of his service as city manager, which would require the city to pay Modica the equivalent of one year’s salary. If he’s terminated after the first 24 months of his contract, he would be owed six month’s salary.

Mayor Robert Garcia and the council praised Modica for his service over the past few months especially in the past six weeks while the COVID-19 pandemic has gripped the nation and forced mass closures across the city.

“I think the council would agree that your handling of the COVID crisis has been impressive and stellar, and you’ve really risen to the occasion,” Garcia said.

Modica will now be charged with helping lead a city that will likely be deeply injured economically by COVID-19 shutdowns that have forced a number of the city’s major revenue drivers like tourism, hotels and restaurants to close or severely scale back operations.

Several members of the council said that they felt like Modica was the right choice to lead the city through these tough times. Modica was employed by the city during the last major economic downturn that occurred during the recession that started in 2008.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.
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