Top city execs get contracts, pay increases

January 4, 2011
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Four key city executives recently received a unanimous vote of confidence from the seven Grand Rapids city commissioners: They reappointed all four for another year and gave each one a raise.

Commissioners gave City Manager Greg Sundstrom, City Attorney Catherine Mish, City Clerk Lauri Parks, and City Treasurer Al Mooney new employment agreements for 2011. Sundstrom, Mish and Parks each were given raises of 4 percent, while Mooney received a 5 percent pay hike.

“We set a pay range that is fair for these individuals and fits within the budget,” said Mayor George Heartwell. “These contracts do not have (salary) step increases.”

Under the new agreements that became effective Saturday, Sundstrom will earn $147,680 this year, while Mish will be paid $118,656 and Parks’ salary is $93,731. Mooney will receive $110,975 in 2011, up from $108,322.

Heartwell said Mooney was awarded a slightly higher raise because his pay was at the city’s salary cap for a number of years. Mooney is the only one of the four who has reached the maximum salary for his position. The mayor emphasized that the contracts do not contain annual pay increases.

The city’s general operating budget has been projected to record a $33,000 surplus this year. Sundstrom said in November that the 2012 budget, which goes into effect July 1, would have a surplus of $175,000, and he thought the 2013 budget would be balanced. The five-year city income tax hike voters approved last spring ends with the 2016 fiscal year.

Early last year, commissioners told Sundstrom and his staff to get the city’s dozen bargaining units to agree to compensation cuts of 10 percent, which would lower general-operating expenditures by $37.7 million over five fiscal years. Five of the unions represent police and fire. The city’s contribution to the police and firefighters pensions is 11.6 percent, but has been projected to rise to 28 percent in 2015 without any adjustments. City CFO Scott Buhrer told the Business Journal that those negotiations are currently in the fact-finding stage, which is part of the negotiation process outlined by state law.

In addition to the employment agreements, commissioners recently changed the length of time that citizens can serve on city boards and commissions. Appointments to those panels carried a limit of either six years or two consecutive terms, whichever was longer. The change commissioners made extended that policy to three consecutive terms regardless of a term’s length.

“I think if someone is really exceptional, we should reappoint them,” said 2nd Ward Commissioner Rosalynn Bliss, who chairs the committee on appointments.

“I think it was a good compromise,” said 3rd Ward Commissioner James White, instead of eliminating term limits, who serves on the appointment committee. “But with our term limits, a person could stand down for a year and then come back.”

The city commission will meet for the first time in 2011 on Jan. 11.

New salaries

Grand Rapids city commissioners recently approved salary ranges for four top appointed positions. The salaries became effective Jan. 1. Only the maximum salary for city treasurer was changed. On June 30 last year, that maximum was $108,332.

City manager
City attorney
City treasurer
City clerk




Source: City of Grand Rapids, December 2010

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