Raises on the way for Palo Alto's top staff

City manager, city attorney, city auditor and city clerk are all set for pay bumps Monday

Palo Alto's four council-appointed officers are all set to get raises on Monday night, when the City Council convenes for its final meeting of the year.

If the council approves the contract amendments, City Manager James Keene and City Attorney Molly Stump will each receive 4.75 percent raises. This would increase Keene's salary from the current $285,002 to $298,542. Stump's salary would rise from $258,519 to $270,712.

City Auditor Harriet Richardson is set to get a 4 percent pay bump, while City Clerk Beth Minor's pay would go up by 3.5 percent. Their new salaries would be $173,368 and $141,149, respectively.

The salary increases for the only four staff members who are directly appointed by the City Council are classified by the city as "merit pay," based on the council's annual evaluation of performance. A report from the Human Resources Department notes that the four officials' agreements do not include "provisions for general wage or other adjustments provided to other management employees."

Earlier this year, the city's largest employment groups Service Employee International Union, Local 521, the police and firefighter unions; and the non-unionized group of management and professional workers have all received new agreements with pay hikes. In April, the council approved new contracts that give the SEIU workers 7.5 percent raises spread out over three years (1.5 percent immediately and two subsequent 3 percent increases) and that gave further increases to workers who were making below the market median for their positions. The police union received similar terms (though unlike with the SEIU, the 7.5 percent is spread out evenly over three years), while the firefighters' new contract provided for an immediate a 5 percent pay bump, followed by an 8 percent increase in July 2017.

The salaries of members of both the police and the firefighter unions also were realigned to better match the market median, which had the effect of further raising the compensation of some workers.

In terms of percentages, the raises for the four council-appointed officers aren't as significant as those that were approved for other employees. Furthermore, as the new Human Resources report notes, the merit-based pay increase for each official is "the only annual increase to be provided."

At the same time, the pay bumps would add to the city's expenses at a time when the council is preparing for a budget deficit that is estimated to be between $4 million and $6 million in fiscal year 2018.

Keene joined the city in 2008 has told council members that he plans to retire in 2018. Last year, Keene and Stump were the highest paid city officials, with total compensation of $307,358 and $272,214, respectively (this includes their regular salaries as well as "cash out" payments for things like unused vacation days, holidays and deferred compensation).

The salary increases are set to be approved on the council's "consent calendar," where multiple items are voted on simultaneously with no discussion.


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41 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2016 at 12:04 pm

38 year resident is a registered user.

Insanity.......Why do we allow this? And forget about matching salaries of other cities close by. It's a scam that they're all in on. Start a lay off process with some of the unnecessary high paid positions and trim the fat or contract out for far less expense.

53 people like this
Posted by Classic
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 9, 2016 at 12:21 pm

And the story just under this one is "PA braces for budget deficit". Just classic

20 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 9, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Why is it insane? According to a 2012 posting, the median family income was $163,661 - 3rd highest in the USA and that's not talking about city employees (especially as 99% can't afford to live in PA). Web Link

That article was written 4 years ago and we know how the prices of homes etc have skyrocketed. Now I will say that there is a discrepancy between what the top people make at the City and some of the great staff that work hard. But I guess that's always the case and I'm sure it's the same at any company.

However, just because you are paying your taxes to pay for their salaries...don't think they should get paid $15 an hour for your benefit. Most city employees work hard and care about what they're doing. They deserve to be paid accordingly.

I find it regrettable that residents who are wealthy (and I say that because to live in Palo Alto you must have a high income or been lucky enough to have lived here since the 60's) have a bad attitude about the salaries of the employees who help to keep their city safe, clean and desirable. Not sure if our property values would be as high without their hard work.

Next time you go to the park think about the employees who make it beautiful for you to enjoy. Next time your electricity/water go out, think about the Utilities people that come out to fix it, next time your street has been swept to make it pleasant think of that. And don't forget those who put their lives on the line in the Fire and PD. They'll be the first you call in need. At $15 an hour there won't be anyone and you'll have to get a bucket of water out yourself!

Perhaps it would be nice if people said THANK YOU for the services they receive as part of their tax dollars at work.

24 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2016 at 12:45 pm

Marie is a registered user.

I think that city salaries should be tied to COLA increases in social security - which is .3% (1/3 of 1%) for 2017 unless they can show specific benefits to PA residents. Instead they endorse projects to reduce the dining room at Avenidas used primarily for low income lunches, to enable the Junior Museum to charge admission, a nominal (for the 1%) amount of $20 for one parent and two kids, and to use private operators for the Animal shelter, who will more than likely raise prices and reduce services.

How about at least charging city employees, including the city manager for parking their cars to truly encourage them to take alternate transportation to free up more parking downtown? Or at least divert some of the money set aside for raises to pay a bonus of $50 a month for any employee who does not drive? Or $5 a day if they don't drive on a given day? Instead we provide him with a car allowance as well as subsidizing his mortgage so he can purchase a house nearby, most likely within biking distance
. How does this make sense?

Oh no, that would make it more difficult to attract the $100K+ project managers that now take up much of city hall (as opposed to most of those who actually do the work - outside contractors with few benefits and low salaries).

18 people like this
Posted by Scotty
a resident of Green Acres
on Dec 9, 2016 at 1:55 pm

Make Palo Alto Great Again..

34 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2016 at 2:24 pm

And then they tell us they are worried about a budget deficit!

You can't make this stuff up.

8 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 9, 2016 at 2:54 pm

Marie. Great idea....but the city employees are raising families, traveling to work and trying to cope Your .3% won't help the kids that will end up on the streets and more of a tax burden to our community! The people at Avenidas have already raised their families, saved their pennies and are enjoying their retirement. Of course I realize that some of those going for lunch are very low income and I'm glad we are able to help feed them lunch, at least. But let the people have the same chance to take care of their families too.

I can't speak to Avenidas and the reasons you mention but I would like to say that because some top people choose to do one thing that upsets a small group the entire staff don't need to hear the wrath of being overpaid when they're not. Why should they be penalized?

As for parking. City staff do pay for parking permits. If staff didn't have to travel from so far away I'm sure many of them would cycle, train or better yet walk. But alas, no. So all that paycheck is going right back into the account to pay for their salaries again. Vicious circle, don't you think?

And for the record, I am NOT a city employee. I just get fed up with the double standards in this area. I grew up here and boy has it changed from the nice little community of caring individuals to a "I have money, you can't" society.

2 people like this
Posted by PM
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2016 at 3:18 pm

"to use private operators for the Animal shelter, who will more than likely raise prices and reduce services" - ??

hopefully, PA shelter will be soon operated by a non-profit & become a No-Kill shelter

the only reduction in services will be no euthanasia of perfectly healthy innocent animals - is this what you are concerned about?

Animal control will be still operated by the City PD

14 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2016 at 4:46 pm

38 year resident is a registered user.

@ one is suggesting city employees be paid $15 per hour. There are too many positions at city hall that are unnecessary or overlap other jobs (assistant city manager, a p.r. person for the city manager, I could go on). There are also too many managers running small groups or departments consisting of 3 or 4 people. consolidating these management positions would save significant dollars.

It's the liberal city government mentality. Create more government jobs and find ways to pay for them after the fact, usually by increasing taxes. They never, ever look to trim the fat.

Those working in the field (parks, meter checkers, etc.) make pretty good money for their skill set and have a great benefit package.

45 people like this
Posted by Undeserved
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 9, 2016 at 5:03 pm

No way are these raises deserved at the top levels, especially in the face of the big deficit!

This is a slap in the face to PA taxpayers.

The city employees in the lower levels are likely to pay for these raises with layoffs.

It's the upper level employees, like the city manager, who should be paying for the budget deficit-- with THEIR layoffs and pay cuts!

22 people like this
Posted by Who benefits?
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 9, 2016 at 8:00 pm

Not spending 4.5 MILLION dollars on the lobby would have avoided a deficit. Or $250,000 for computer generated screens with moving pictures.

There seems to be motivated over-spending. Who benefits from a deficit?

13 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 9, 2016 at 8:42 pm

I echo Marie's point about at least charging city employees for parking. It's bad enough we have to pay their car allowances, pay for their car pool trips and pay them to preach at US to change OUR driving habits.

Let them practice what they get paid so handsomely to preach.

Why are they being rewarded for running a deficit? They should be penalized, not rewarded.

24 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2016 at 6:53 am

This just drives me nuts. I am so appalled, disgusted, disillusioned. Soon it will be time to leave this godforsaken town forever.

The malady affecting our modern age is that powerful bureaucrats AREN'T HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

Prepare for a rude awakenin

6 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 10, 2016 at 9:50 am

38 year resident is a registered user.

City Council will be voting on these raises on Monday at 5 PM.

Send each member an e-mail and tell them to vote NO on these pay raises. City of Palo Alto web site. In the search bar, type in e-mail city council members and a list of members and their e-mail adresses will pop up.

1 person likes this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 11, 2016 at 7:47 am

[Post removed.]

23 people like this
Posted by City Employee
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 11, 2016 at 10:44 am

So, we are giving raises for incompetence. City Attorney Molly Stump is one of the main reasons that the binding arbitration ballot ruling failed in court last week. Quoting her from the San Jose Mercury News article from September 7, 2011- "The city is not legally required to meet with the Palo Alto's public safety unions before placing Measure D on the ballot". Even though former Fire Union President Tony Spitaleri reminded her that it was law to meet and confer on changes in the contract and for the fire union to have input.

12 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 11, 2016 at 1:20 pm

I guess city council can't be bothered with the reality of budget problems ahead, brought on by those who apparently need to be rewarded for this poor management? City council thinks the forward projection of the cities budget is the result of 'merit' Really? Show of hands, who is expecting a pay raise this year? I dismiss the notion that city government 'leaders' have to so over paid in order to keep then on staff. It's a dumb idea that serves no one but the incumbent.

City council... defend your decision!

17 people like this
Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 11, 2016 at 4:04 pm

Actually, City Council is not planning to have a public discussion of these raises. The increases are included as part of the "Consent Calendar" where multiple items are bundled together and approved with a single vote and without any debate.

In the past, the Consent Calendar has been used to enact any number of questionable expenses, including the $4.5 million renovation of the City Hall lobby.

Where is the transparency? Clearly there is none.

It is unconscionable for City Council to reward City Manager Jim Keane with merit increases every year when his performance has been so consistently poor.

There are no grounds on which City Council can justify paying the City Manager of our small city more than the Governor of California -- not only the largest state in America, but also the sixth largest economy in the world.

18 people like this
Posted by Resident 2
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 12, 2016 at 11:13 am

We have a budget deficit, and the top leaders are getting a raise. If they were self employed their would not be money for a raise, in fact, they would receive less money for the year. So, how about a pay cut instead, this is what should happen.

Drain the swamp.

4 people like this
Posted by Confused resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Dec 12, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Two articles on Palo Alto Online currently:

"Raises on the way for Palo Alto's top staff" ---this one indicates that PA has lots of money, at least not in a budget deficit.... A good news for Palo Alto

"Palo Alto braces for budget deficit" ---this one said that PA is short of money.

Now, which one should a regular resident believe??? Is the City out of money but still raise the salary of "TOP" staff??? If so, awful and speechless :-(

12 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 12, 2016 at 5:01 pm

Rewarding the city's top managers with these high raises while we've got a $4-to-$6 million deficit is absurd. It also weakens the city's negotiating position with lower-ranked workers, a major concern given the report today that the unfunded pension liabilities rose $43.700,000 in just one single year to a total of $338,000,000 -- a 14.8% increase!

That's more than either our sales tax revenue of $31.8 million or $39.1 million in property tax revenue! The $6,000,000 budget deficit is a mere drop in the bucket.

Give the money to the poor Barron Park donkeys instead.

8 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 12, 2016 at 7:40 pm

The lobby looks nice now at PA City Hall. I don't begrudge that -- just it seems like excessive spending when we so often swing into "crisis" mode. We pay extremely high property taxes, sales taxes, fees to live around here. Most in private industry do NOT have stock options like Zuck (which is often cited as an "excuse" to raise pay for public employees); in fact, many receive modest raises and don't have equity. I WANT to hire and pay for high quality public employees, but "guaranteed" or "scheduled" type of raises and adjustments are excessive. We can do better to be fair to everyone all around.

3 people like this
Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 13, 2016 at 5:35 pm

It must be nice to have a pension that increases every year. Mine is fixed from the day of inception. As a spouse after the untimely death of my husband it is relatively small
This seems like an attempt to force out widows so that young tech workers can get their homes. Where do the seniors go? Most will have to go out of the area.

5 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 13, 2016 at 5:54 pm

What's a pension? A small hotel in Europe?

Seriously, very few private sector workers have pensions. And Social Security and Medicare are about to go the way of the dodo bird, too.

Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 13, 2016 at 8:52 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

No Fortune 500 company would pay its executives less than the average going rate. Every analyst knows high compensation means high performance, after all. Companies with high executive salaries are obviously doing well, so their stock valuations remain bullish. Drop the salaries and it's bad press on the Street and tanking stocks.

Palo Alto is merely following private sector business practices, which is what local Conservatives recommend but don't appreciate when they see it in action.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Esther Clark Park

on Jul 27, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland

on Jul 29, 2017 at 3:04 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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

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