Upper-level city managers, from the new police and fire chiefs to the Sawyer Free Library director, could see a raise in July.
After two public hearings, City Council voted Tuesday night to re-classify or raise the pay ranges of a litany of upper-level managers for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Councilors also approved a $25,000 increase in the mayor's salary which will take effect in January 2014.
Some councilors said the raises and reclassifications aligned with responsibilities and value of the positions. But residents who spoke Tuesday night said the reclassification and salary increases shouldn't happen if it means other employees will lose their jobs.
"Our salary levels in this city have been, across the board from the mayor to the managers and staff, way behind (other communities)," said Sunny Robinson, a Harvard Street resident and community activist. "But, how are we as a city going to pay for a reclassification that results in salary increases without costing anyone else their job and without continuing to raise taxes?"
Chief Administrative Officer Jim Duggan said the reclassifications and any potential raises will not require an increase in city fees. They'll be built into the fiscal 2013 budget, and covered by new growth and the increase in the levy allowed by tax-limiting Proposition 2 1/2. That budget, he said, won't involve layoffs.
"No one is going to be losing their jobs as a result of this," Duggan said.
The council reclassified the police chief and fire chief's positions, moving the range of pay from $83,091 to $98,310 to a range between $100,302 and $118,572.
The posts of building inspector, health director, environmental engineer, library director, personnel director, purchasing agent, IT director, and city clerk were bumped upward from ranges of between $65,077 and $76,989 to one of $74,194 to $87,769.
The salary for Duggan's job as chief administrative officer was moved from a range of $74,194 to $87,769 to one between $91,806 and $108,578. The city solicitor's position was moved from $83,091 to $98,310 to a range of $91,806 to $108,578, and the harbormaster's position was boosted from a range of $58,628 to $69,352 to one of between $65,077 and $76,989.
The raise in pay for the mayor's office won't effect Mayor Carolyn Kirk, unless she's elected for a fourth term in November 2013.
The council approved the mayoral raise on a 5-1 vote, with Councilors Joe Ciolino, Sefatia Romeo Theken and Greg Verga absent. Only Councilor Bob Whynott dissented.
"It's too big a jump to make at one time," said Whynott.
He said he would support an increase of $5,000 per year until it hits a reasonable level, but a higher mayor's salary supports a "career politician."
That's a culture, he said, the city shouldn't support. Mayors, he said, should come in for a few terms and then return to whatever they were doing in the private sector.
"(We) felt the salary was commensurate with the duties of the CEO of a $100 million corporation," said Paul McGeary, chairman of the Council's Budget and Finance subcommittee.
McGeary said the order wasn't out of line with what other communities on the North Shore pay their chief executives. The average pay for the head of a municipality is around $95,000, according to a survey done by the city. Gloucester now pays its mayor around $75,000.
The mayor's job, said Councilor Bruce Tobey, a former mayor, is complex. The city's chief executive, he said, manages a working city with a complicated water and sewer system. It's a position that deserves a responsive salary, he said.
"If we don't view the position with respect, we've got a problem," he said.
Tobey reiterated that he has no intention to ever run again for the city's top office.
The city did its last reclassification process roughly 11 years ago. Reclassifying moves a position's range of pay.
When the city evaluates those positions for fiscal 2013, Duggan said any raise would be on a case-by-case basis.
"I will guarantee no one's going to the top, there are years of work going forward," he said.
Whatever raises the city gives to employees will come in front of the Council's Budget and Finance subcommittee. The council, said McGeary is only now passing a range increase.
"We will have our knives sharpened," he said.
Steven Fletcher may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3455 or email@example.com. Follow him @gdtnews on Twitter.