April 12, 1996 in City

City Managers Still Underpaid Raises Deserved You Get What You Pay For, And That Includes Good City Officials.

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Much misplaced anger and discussion have been wasted on the issue of whether Spokane’s top city government managers should get small raises.

They should get a raise. The streets get cleaned, the garbage gets picked up, the fires are put out.

The top six managers all will get a 2.75 percent raise this year, less than all of the people they supervise. Union employees in city government received a 3.25 percent raise this year.

Spokane’s managers have more responsibilities and make less than their peers in other cities.

Irv Reed, for example, supervises more than 500 people and manages a budget in excess of $150 million which includes all water, sewer, garbage and street repairs in the city, plus planning, public works and building inspectors. In other cities, his work is done by two managers - or more. In the private sector, someone who manages this many people and oversees this kind of budget easily could earn 50 percent more than Reed does.

Even with his raise, Reed’s salary of $84,752 will trail the average pay of public works directors in comparable cities in the Pacific states by nearly $10,000, according to the 1995 compensation survey published by the International City/County Management Association.

The same relationship holds for the salary of Spokane City Manager Roger Crum. He has a tiny staff. His 2.75 percent raise brings his pay up to $95,714. Tacoma’s city manager made $112,572 last year. The city manager in Vancouver, Wash., population 50,000, made $96,000 last year.

High pay can’t guarantee a good job being done.

But low pay usually means good people move on and the marginal stick around. Spokane doesn’t need that.

And the irony of citizen complaints about city salaries is this: After petitions were circulated in 1993 to roll back city salaries, more than 300 non-union city workers formed a new bargaining unit. As a result, Spokane today has the most unionized city staff in the state, with only 16 administrators out of a work force of 2,000 not covered by a bargaining unit.

The relentless focus on top salaries actually has made it more difficult for Spokane to be innovative, flexible and responsive to budget realities.

, DataTimes MEMO: For opposing view, see headline: Officials win raise, lose credibility

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN, EDITORIAL - From both sides CREDIT = Chris Peck/For the editorial board

For opposing view, see headline: Officials win raise, lose credibility

The following fields overflowed: SUPCAT = COLUMN, EDITORIAL - From both sides CREDIT = Chris Peck/For the editorial board


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