Two city councilors Monday asked a City Council subcommittee to ship Mayor Carolyn Kirk's proposed fiscal 2013 budget to the full council for immediate rejection, citing proposed management pay raises as "inappropriate."
As first reported in Saturday's Times, Kirk's $84.6 million fiscal 2013 budget proposal includes average annual raises of more than 14 percent for city department heads, including a 29 percent raise for Chief Administrative Officer Jim Duggan, a 19 percent raise for Building Inspector Bill Sanborn, and 18 percent for City Solicitor Suzanne Egan.
The raises, councilors said, don't line up with the spirit of a reclassification plan they approved in March.
Kirk, on the other hand, said the pay increases will retain and attract talented city staff.
Councilors Bob Whynott and Bruce Tobey sent the emailed request, which the Times obtained, to members of the Budget and Finance subcommittee members Monday morning.
They asked that members move the matter to the full council immediately, so the council can reject the proposal and put it back on Kirk's desk.
That would give Kirk to "hit the reset button," Tobey said.
"We feel very strongly that they (the raises) are both inappropriate and inconsistent with the representations that were made to the council when we enacted the most recent round of amendments to the management compensation and grade ordinance," the email states.
The raises need to be more in line with what City Council was told when it addressed a restructuring of several pay ranges in March, Whynott said. At that time, he said, councilors were told any increases would be "reasonable," and that Kirk wouldn't set managers at the top of the new pay scale.
It's not that city department heads don't do good work, Whynott said, but some of the increases are unreasonable.
Given that some staffers haven't had a raise in a long time, hikes of 10 percent to 12 percent could "make sense," he said. But raises of up to 29 percent are out of line.
"It's too much," Whynott said.
The problem would be best resolved by sending it back to Kirk, rather than going over it in committee, said Tobey. He said councilors have received a lot of comments on the raises, but Kirk should have a chance to revisit her proposal. He said the budget has some fundamental "hiccups" that need tending, and the raises should have been pegged more toward the midpoint of the reclassification scale.
"I think it requires the close personal attention of the mayor," he said.
Councilor and Budget and Finance Subcommittee Chairman Paul McGeary said department heads are in line for an average 14 percent raise this year, but according to a reclassification spreadsheet McGeary sent to the Times, raises range from 2 percent to 29 percent.
Duggan and Personnel Director David Bain put together the reclassification packet. Duggan said the mayor's proposal allows for multiple years of growth for the department head positions. Those positions, he said, haven't been re-examined in 11 years.
Last year, Duggan made $81,184. Kirk's budget proposal pegs him at $104,715. Kirk's budget also raises Egan's salary from $87,481 to $103,171. Assistant Public Works Director Mark Cole's salary is pegged to rise from $81,120 to $86,952.
The pay levels for Gloucester's fire and police chief positions are targeted for increases of more than $30,000 each in Kirk's fiscal 2013 budget. Her budget raises the police chief's pay from $80,489 to $115,000. The fire chief's pay was raised from $78,522 to $115,000, with both hikes coming as the city was seeking to attract new chiefs for both departments.
Kirk's budget would also raise Sanborn's pay from $66,645 to $79,900, City Clerk Linda Lowe's from $75,479 to $79,722, while the vacant information technology director's salary would go from $75,474 to $80,676.
Purchasing Agent Donna Compton's salary would increase from $66,550 to $76,241, Auditor Ken Costa's pay would rise from $85,242 to $94,388, while Library Director Carol Gray's salary would be boosted from $69,550 to $79,724.
Gloucester-funded Public Health Director Noreen Burke's salary was $42,900 for the last five months of this fiscal year after hiring her in February. That position would be funded for the full year at $82,135 in Kirk's proposal.
The proposal also would raise Public Works chief Hale's salary from $111,152 to $120,945, and Chief Financial Officer Towne's salary could go from $107,887 to $113,894.
Councilors reclassified the positions for fiscal 2011.
"I think they've gotten a message that some of those raises appear to have raised eyebrows," McGeary said.
He said he'd like to discuss the raises with Kirk, rather than have her go back to the drawing board.
Kirk, meanwhile, said she'd like to talk to Ciry Council about the pay hikes, too.
"We do want the opportunity to explain to the council the benchmarking that was done against 17 communities," Kirk said, "so that there's context for why some recommendations were the way they were."
She said the city set positions in the middle range of 17 like communities across the state. The numbers she proposed in her budget will help the city retain and attract talent for city management, she said. Kirk added that she wants the city wages to be competitive.
"We need to retain (talented staff) for the benefit of the community," Kirk said.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 1-978-283-7000 x3455, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @stevengdt.