Public Relations Effort Urged to Justify Pay Raises

Times Staff Writer

An $8,000 consultant's report suggests that Thousand Oaks officials mount a public relations campaign to convince constituents that the city's two highest paid employees be given raises.

A draft copy of the report by the Coopers & Lybrand accounting and consulting firm says that Thousand Oaks residents are "not ready to accept paying a city manager $100,000 in annual base salary."

Thousand Oaks City Manager Grant R. Brimhall, the city's highest paid employee, earns an annual salary of $94,740. City Atty. Mark G. Sellers, the only other city employee whose salary was reviewed by the report, is paid an annual salary of $72,504.

To quiet potential opposition to the city giving Brimhall a raise that would push his salary to more than $100,000, the consultant's report suggested that it "begin an awareness process regarding pay raises for city manager positions."

Part of that public relations campaign would include "collecting and disseminating information regarding pay rates and compensation trends in other agencies," the report said.

The Coopers & Lybrand report, which has not been released to the public, was obtained this week by City Hall critics who say the study is a waste of public money. The City Council authorized the study earlier this year.

"Basically the report is just a way to find out how to break the $100,000 salary barrier," resident and former Planning Commission member Joan Gorner said.

Councilman Lawrence Horner said the accounting and consulting firm was to put together a report evaluating how much the city manager and city attorney should be paid, based on performance. All city management employees are now given raises only if they meet certain performance standards.

"I don't see us putting on a public-awareness campaign," Horner said. "People just want to know the basis for whatever decision the council renders."

Responding to questions surrounding the report at Tuesday's City Council meeting, council members Frank Schillo and Lee Laxdal said the city is still awaiting a final draft and has made no decision on any raises that might be given top administrators.

A final version of the report probably will not be ready until after the council returns from its summer recess in September, council members said.

Brimhall, who has been the city's chief administrator for more than 10 years, said that he is regularly offered higher-paid positions in private industry. He said he has not considered taking any of the offers because "I have a kind of missionary's zeal to stay with the city."

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