When Spokane Mayor David Condon kicked off his run for office in 2011, he indicted high-earning city employees as part of the city’s longstanding budget woes.
But as the mayor continues his wide-ranging overhaul of city government — from merging departments and outsourcing some work, to laying off employees and cutting open positions — Condon has found a new appreciation for several well-paid managers. According to numbers from the City Council, under Condon’s proposed budget:
Chief Financial Officer Gavin Cooley would get a 13.7 percent pay increase to $143,091.
Management and Budget Director Tim Dunivant would get a 15.7 percent increase to $128,350.
Accounting Director Pam Dolan would get a 9.6 percent increase to $125,760.
Human Resources Director Heather Lowe would get a 9.8 percent increase to $124,258.
Planning Director Scott Chesney would get a 22.3 percent increase to $102,897.
Meanwhile, union employees like Spokane’s firefighters have agreed to forego raises for 2013. Up to 35 city employees are receiving layoff notices. And about 20 currently unfilled positions are being slashed from the Spokane Police Department.
“I’m aghast,” City Council President Ben Stuckart tells The Inlander in a phone interview, adding that the council wasn’t informed of the pay raises in a recent budget briefing.
“Nobody’s talking about giving the police a bunch of more raises because they’re going to be covering more of the city,” he says, adding that department heads are non-union employees. “Come on, these are individuals making more than $100,000. They need to buck up.”
Stuckart adds that he will try to address the raises in the Dec. 3 City Council session.
Condon says he sympathizes with the city employees, including those who are doing more work due to the layoffs but not getting the raises of his department managers.
“I am not going to sit there and tell somebody they shouldn’t go: ‘Damn it, that sucks,’” he says. “Amen it does. It sucks for the people around my cabinet table, because they look around, and [workers getting laid off are their] peers.”
Some of those managers — like Cooley and Chesney — have had other departments folded into theirs, so they oversee more work. Also, as salaried, non-union employees, those department heads don’t get paid overtime for the extra hours they work, Condon points out.
And the mayor says he’s saved $850,000 by eliminating seven middle management positions in this budget — money he says prevented even more city workers from getting pink slips.
Those positions paid from around $80,000 to over $100,000, according to the mayor. Assuming the average city salary is around $50,000, he makes that case that those savings are preventing more layoffs.
Says Condon: “For seven [middle managers], we’ve kept 16 people.”