City manager, clerk raises on Tuesday agenda

Raises for two of Newport Beach's top city administrators, another round of proposed tidelands rent increases and a discussion of city employee compensations are on Tuesday night's jam-packed council meeting agenda.

The council will vote on a 3% raise for City Manager Dave Kiff and an 11% raise for City Clerk Leilani Brown. According to a staff report, that would bump Kiff's base annual salary from $225,000 to $231,750 and Brown's from $110,830 to $123,800.

If the contract amendments pass, both will contribute about 9% of their pay to their pensions, with added provisions that that percentage will increase as other city employees' pension contributions increase. That means the city manager, city clerk and city attorney will pay the greatest percentages of their total pension costs of any city employees, Kiff wrote in a newsletter.

Kiff already contributes about 9% of his salary, which is about 36% of his total pension costs. The city's ultimate goal is to have employees each footing about half of their pension costs.

"I think I am paid very generously for what I do," Kiff wrote. "I appreciate this job every day (if I don't, I'm crazy)."

Kiff's Housing Agreement, wherein the city loaned him $471,250 in fall 2009 to help him buy a home in Newport Beach, is also on the agenda.

According to Newport's city charter at the time, the city manager was required to live in town. Kiff, a longtime Laguna Beach resident, bought the house for $935,000 in October 2009.

But in 2010, residents approved a series of charter amendments, including one nixing the provision requiring the city manager to live within city limits. Kiff opted to move back to Laguna.

This September, he sold the house and repaid the loan. Tuesday, the council is expected to officially terminate the housing agreement.

In other compensation-related news, the council will hear a report by consulting firm Fox Lawson and Associates that looks at Newport's compensation plans for top-level managers.

The report will recommend ways of categorizing upper management positions and suggest salary ranges for those categories. The recommendations are aimed at keeping Newport's executive compensation competitive with similar cities and the private sector.

The study is also part of an effort to comply with California Public Employee Retirement System rules requiring the city to have such defined executive salary ranges.

Finally, after apparently putting the issue to rest at a special meeting Oct. 23, the council will revisit large commercial marinas rents, along with rents for other public tidelands uses.

The city administers state-owned public tidelands and is required by the state to charge "Fair Market Value" rents. This means that the city must impose major rent increases, officials say, because rents haven't been adjusted in decades. The proposals have drawn intense criticism from harbor stakeholders.

At an Oct. 23 special meeting, the council voted to increase rents for large commercial marina operators to 18.5% of gross slip revenue, phased in at a rate of about 2.5% over five years, starting in 2015.

According to a staff report for Tuesday's meeting, however, the council will consider knocking that down to 16% of gross slip revenue, also phased in over five years, starting in 2013.

The staff report also includes revised proposals for rent increases on shipyards, fuel docks, yacht clubs, daily boat rentals, guest slips for restaurants, among other harbor uses.

At a pre-meeting study session beginning at 3:30 p.m., the council will hear updates on the state of Newport Harbor and an overview of the harbor commission's goals for the upcoming year.

The council is entering its last month of meetings at the 3300 Newport Boulevard City Hall site, before moving to the new civic center on Avocado Avenue in December. Tuesday's regular meeting will start at 7 p.m.

Twitter: @jillcowan

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