After months of study and delay, the City Council has approved pay increases ranging from 8% to 17% for top city officials.
The council voted Tuesday to give raises to the city auditor, city clerk, city attorney, city manager and city prosecutor.
The votes were unanimous except for Councilman Warren Harwood, who voted against the raises for the city attorney and city manager. He said afterward that he questioned the methodology used to arrive at the pay increases. Councilwoman Jan Hall was absent.
As approved by the council, annual salaries will be raised from $99,800 to $117,365 for City Atty. John Calhoun; from $84,400 to $88,620 for City Auditor Bob Fronke; from $52,700 to $55,335 for City Clerk Shelba Powell; from $118,200 to $131,557 for City Manager James Hankla, and from $92,000 to $96,600 for Prosecutor John Vander Lans.
Calhoun, Fronke and Vander Lans were elected. Powell and Hankla were appointed by the council.
The council rejected a proposal to raise salaries last March, sending the matter to a committee until the city budget could be passed. In the meantime, the city hired the private firm of Hay Management Consultants of Los Angeles to study pay rates. The firm conducted an extensive study that compared pay rates for top city officials to people with similar responsibilities in the private sector.
The study found that the city "does not presently pay all of its elected and appointed officials competitively" in the upper levels of management. Jerrold R. Bratkovich, vice president of Hay consultants, said pay is competitive for city employees at lower levels and people in similar jobs in private industry.
Tom Plell, a union representative for the City Employees Assn., which recently signed a new three-year contract contract with the city that included a 14% pay raise, endorsed the pay raises for top officials.
Mayor Ernie Kell said he not only lauded the salary increases for the top officials, but said City Council members should get a pay increase, too. He urged the council to put a pay measure on the ballot for the approval of voters.
Councilman Ray Grabinski, who was the lone voice in favor of immediate pay increases for the officials last March, criticized the council's handling of the issue. He said the council received a 5% pay increase itself last year while it stalled on granting the raises to the top officials.