BLOOMINGTON — After four years without any pay bumps, City Manager David Hales could see a 14 percent salary increase under a proposal set for a City Council vote Monday.
Hired in 2009, Hales has not seen any increases to his original $150,000 salary. The proposed increase, retroactive in increments over the last three years, would bump his pay to $171,300.
As before, Hales would receive a $5,700 annual vehicle allowance. His new contract would expire in January 2017.
“This is for four (past) years,” said Mayor Steve Stockton. “We think he’s been a big part of solving many of our budget problems and leading our employee group to save millions of dollars a year.”
Hales was hired when the city faced a general fund deficit. After three years with Hales at the helm, the city’s reserves held about $14 million, a number still on the rise.
Stockton said the proposed raise factors in a citywide pay freeze for one year and allows for three years of unrealized raises at about 3 percent pre year and a market adjustment to make the salary competitive with surrounding communities.
The Normal City Council last year approved a contract with its top administrator, Mark Peterson, with an annual salary of $168,207. Peterson also receives an annual $7,800 vehicle allowance.
Bloomington Mayor-elect Tari Renner said the proposed salary is in line with similar communities but worries about the perception of a lump 14 percent raise rather than incremental annual increases. “When I’m mayor, that will never happen,” he said. “It might make people cynical or more cynical.”
Up for a vote Monday, the last meeting for the current City Council, the proposal likely will not meet unanimous approval.
“In this economic environment, our citizens and our taxpayers are not getting raises commonly. … Many of them feel lucky to have jobs at all,” said Alderman Judy Stearns.
She said she gives Hales credit for improving the city’s finances in his first few years but said the city itself is a “financially blessed, wealthy, prosperous community.”
She said under Hales the city’s “service culture” has been lackluster, projects have languished and employee morale plummeted while the city took three years to consider a managed-competition policy. She also noted the city’s failure to adhere to transparency laws.
“City Council is supposed to be the watchdog and hold our city manager responsible. I don’t see that happening,” she said.
Aldermen Rob Fazzini and Jim Fruin praised Hales for his financial oversight.
Fazzini said perception could be an issue but in reality the compensation package is appropriate. “The fact that we didn’t do anything in the first four years was unfortunate, but we need to make up for that, so that’s what we’re doing,” he said. “I’m confident what we did was right.”
Incoming Ward 7 Alderman Scott Black said he wished the new council, which will be “footing the bill for the increase,” could weigh in. “It seems excessive and not in line with the direction the citizens want to go with the city’s finances,” he said, but asked if he opposed the increase he said he’d want to review it and talk to constituents.