The Haines Borough Assembly unanimously approved a compensation package Tuesday for incoming manager David Sosa that includes a $98,000 annual salary, 35 days of leave and a $10,000 travel stipend.

The three-year contract includes a 3.5 percent salary bump in the second and third years.

The 35 days of leave does not include 11 paid holidays.

The assembly voted 5-1 to go into executive session to discuss the contract. Assembly member Debra Schnabel was opposed.

Sosa’s start date is April 8.

Sosa is a 20-year U.S. Marine Corps officer. He holds a master’s degree in public administration but has never worked for a municipality.

Schnabel said she objected to discussing the contract behind closed doors because the community has an interest in how its elected officials decide to compensate staff.

Half of the session was spent reading the eight-page document, which the assembly hadn’t been given to review prior to the meeting, Schnabel said. “Why the assembly should be kept in the dark about what its own position is is beyond me,” Schnabel said.

Though she disagreed with the process for discussing the contract, the document itself was “fine,” she said. “I think it’s a very competitive and satisfactory package for an executive in the public sector.”

Assembly member Dave Berry also said he liked the contract. “I think the contract is good and fair for the borough, because the leave is far less than (was granted to) the previous manager,” Berry said.

At the end of his nearly four-year tenure, previous manager Mark Earnest had a $108,000 salary and 48 days of leave per year, not including 11 paid borough holidays.

Berry said the leave package was also in line with Sosa’s present deal with the military, which stipulates 30 days of leave.

Berry also said he didn’t find the travel stipend excessive, as Sosa has to move his wife, daughter and all his belongings thousands of miles from North Carolina to Haines.

Cozzi said the military would be sharing in the family’s moving expenses, though she didn’t say to what extent.

Large chunks of the $10,000 are attributed to the ferry and lodging across the country, Cozzi said.

“A huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders,” Cozzi said of finally finishing the hiring process. “(Sosa) will be good for the borough and I can’t wait for him to get here.”