Palo Alto managers get raises under new contract

City Council unanimously approves 4.5 percent salary bumps over two years

More than 200 managers and professionals in Palo Alto received raises on Monday night under a plan that also sets a cap on the city's contribution for employee medical benefits.

The new compensation package, which the City Council unanimously approved Monday, mirrors the salary and benefit adjustments that the council approved in March for the city's largest union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 521. Much like the roughly 600 workers represented by the SEIU, the members of the managers group will receive a 4.5 raise over two years, with 2 percent coming in the first year (effective July 1) and another 2.5 percent added in July 2015.

About 10 percent of the workforce will see further salary as part of an effort by the city to more closely align local salaries with those of other comparable cities.

In February, the city commissioned a study that evaluated Palo Alto's salaries with those of 14 other cities, including including Berkeley, Mountain View, San Jose, Santa Clara and San Mateo. The study confirmed that overall the city's compensation for its managers is "competitive," according to a report from city staff, but it also prompted officials to adjust salaries for 19 position to bring them to within 5 percent of the median market (as with the SEIU, the realignment included no downward salary adjustments). In some cases this meant shifting the position into a higher salary tier, or grade.

The realigned positions include deputy fire chief, public safety manager, planning manager, chief building official, chief transportation official and supervisor of facilities management supervisor.

"Recruitment and retention of managers and professionals is key to reaching the City's goals of providing innovative, effective, high quality work," a report from Human Services states. "Offering a competitive compensation plan that brings current salary ranges and benefits within 5 percent of the market median is necessary to recruit and retain talent."

The new plan also sets a cap for the city's contributions for medical premiums. In the past, the city's portion of medical expenses was a percentage of the total. Starting in January, it will be a flat figure, ranging from $708 for an employee-only plan to $1,840 for a family plan.

The salary and benefit adjustments are expected to add a total of $3.7 million to the city's expenses over the two-year period. This represents about 6.2 percent of the budgeted total compensation, according to the Human Resources report.

The council approved the new compensation package swiftly and with little discussion. Councilwoman Gail Price, who made the motion to approve the new contract, thanked the employees for their work and stressed the importance for having competitive salaries.

"This will help recruit and retain employees for the City of Palo Alto," Price said.

Earlier in the meeting, the council also approved 5 percent increases for City Manager James Keene and City Attorney Molly Stump, raising their respective salaries to $275,353 and $246,688. These contracts were approved on the council's consent calendar, with no discussion or dissent.

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8 people like this
Posted by Analysis of Staff Compensation, by Staff???
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 10, 2014 at 12:34 am

>> ...according to a report from city staff, but it also prompted officials to adjust salaries for 19 position to bring them to within 5 percent of the median market (as with the SEIU, the realignment included no downward salary adjustments). In some cases this meant shifting the position into a higher salary tier, or grade.

Is it just me, or does it seem a bit suspect that "city staff" is weighing in on salaries for "city staff?"

10 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 10, 2014 at 10:47 am

Palo Alto's top managers are already paid more than in surrounding municipalities and they only work 4 days a week. It's not clear how much their "other" pay is but here's some comparisons:

Our city manager's new salary will be $275,353/?? other pay) vs Mountain's city manager at $225,418/ $244,848 with other pay and Redwood City''s $233,476/$250,583 with other pay.

City attorney: Palo Alto $246,688/??? other pay vs Mountain View $220,439/ $237,477 other pay) and Redwood City $215,351/$242,024 other

Chief Transportation Jaime Rodriquez gets a raise from $147,337 to $153,967 "plus extra pay and benefits," a figure that's unknown.

What is "extra pay"? How much "extra pay" are these folks getting? Do highly paid officials still get over-time? If so, why?

9 people like this
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2014 at 11:03 am

WHY are they getting raises!!! Our city is slowly (or fast) going downhill. Over sized building, over crowding of housing and over crowding of schools! If they were taking care of our city they way they should, I wouldn't mind them getting raises!

8 people like this
Posted by Carol Gilbert
a resident of University South
on Dec 10, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Our staff probably works hard, but no harder than the staff of Mt. View or Redwood City. We do not have to be the leader in pay scale, especially when it will so adversely affect what we pay out in pensions. When you have money in your pocket does not mean you have to spend it. Or, maybe you need to think about spending it on potholes, animal shelters, and low income housing.

Like this comment
Posted by Too Funny
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 11, 2014 at 5:04 am

[Post removed.]

7 people like this
Posted by More corruption
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 11, 2014 at 11:29 am

The Old Guard is hastening to get this in before the new council comes on in January. Mr. Keene has done their bidding and supported development and now he is being rewarded.
And Jaime Rodriguez and his private companies for street signs etc. Just the tip of the iceberg.

3 people like this
Posted by Something Reeks
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 11, 2014 at 12:12 pm

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Jon botelho
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 11, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Carol Gilbert, I have no way to prove it, but I suspect Palo Alto staff do indeed work harder than Redwood City or Mountain View staff. I base this solely from comparing resident behaviour at various public meetings (I have lived in all 3 towns). Many Palo Altans are the center of the(ir) universe and expect staffers to understand that and jump through any and all hoops. Hence the Palo Alto Process. i also believe that you usually, although not always, get what you pay for.

2 people like this
Posted by Jo Ann
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 11, 2014 at 10:15 pm

Jon, with all due respect, nonsense. I've been complaining to PA Utilities and the City Council for about 3 years about "Lake Middlefield" and the "Middlefield River" that occurs whenever we have the slightest drizzle and have been totally ignored.

But ONE email report to the PA City Police via Next Door resulted in it being fixed within hours.

I hardly consider our staff hard-working when it takes our Transportation Director close to 10 years to respond to the bottlenecks caused by the failure to synchronize the Town & Country traffic lights. Then he finally shovels a 100+ pages of boilerplate into RFP with no textual description about the requirements but is merely boilerplate. But he gets a raise but not-disclosed "extra pay" increases while ignoring residents' emails and calls, bragging about his breaking the law to favor bicyclists and painting the town green with his silly bicycle signs to benefit one of his 3 private companies!

And you wonder why we have so many lawsuits, a $25,000,000 cost-over-run on the new library not counting more legal costs tbd.

But these "hard-working" "managers" get keep getting raises instead of being docked or fired. Who gets raises when something costs twice as much as anticipated and is years late???

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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