March 29, 1996 in Nation/World

Pay Raises Back On Agenda Less Of A Surprise This Time, But Just As Costly To City

By The Spokesman-Review
 

(From For the Record of Saturday, March 30, 1996:) Spokane Assistant City Manager Bill Pupo’s 1995 salary was $69,880. The figure was incorrect in a chart that ran Friday.

Spokane City Manager Roger Crum may soon earn $1,840 a week - $7 more than the median Spokane household earns in a month.

Crum’s pay increase is one of several proposed for the city’s top managers. That’s the same one shot down by the council late last year.

It’s coming back for a second try.

The plan calls for a 2.75 percent salary increase for the city’s top six administrators and a 3.25 percent increase for the next 10.

If the council approves the proposal April 8, taxpayers will pay top-scale managers a total of about $25,000 more this year than last.

Irate over what they called a surprise move by Crum, council members rejected the same pay proposal in December.

Crum’s early 1996 budget drafts didn’t include management pay raises. Council members learned of the proposed increases by reading the newspaper - on the day they planned to vote on this year’s spending plan.

“We weren’t ticked off about the raises, we were ticked off that we didn’t know it was being brought forward,” Councilman Orville Barnes said.

Council members froze all non-union managerial pay hikes for 90 days, referring discussions about how to increase pay to the finance committee.

Crum is in Pendleton, Ore., for a city manager’s conference and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Recently, the council finance committee - composed of Mayor Jack Geraghty and council members Chris Anderson and Barnes - unanimously recommended the raises.

“We didn’t really have time to do a full analysis for the remainder of 1996,” Geraghty said. “So we went ahead and gave them COLA (cost-of-living) increases. It’s a fairness issue.”

The committee bought into the argument Crum used in December to justify the raises - that unionized employees were getting contract-negotiated, 3.25-percent increases this year.

At the time, Crum said he tried to convince the unions to forgo the pay hikes because of the city’s money problems. When they wouldn’t, he didn’t think non-union employees should be penalized.

“It’s unfair to the group of non-represented employees to say, ‘You guys should bite the bullet but everybody else should be granted a raise,”’ Anderson said.

Anderson said the council plans to draft an evaluation policy for top managers by the end of the year that will keep future across-the-board pay raises from happening. Such a plan would tie increases to job performance.

The managerial pay hikes won’t be retroactive to Jan. 1, which will save taxpayers about $11,651 this year, Anderson added.

Barnes said he realizes the raises won’t sit well with the public, but lowering managerial salaries would involve a complete overhaul of city pay scales.

“I don’t suppose anything we do on this particular matter will sit perfectly well,” he said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Proposed pay raises for top city employees

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