Wrangell manager turns down $20,000 pay raise

Administrator's salary considered low, but he says hike during tough times for town is unfair

Posted: Sunday, June 10, 2001

In a town hit by declines in Southeast Alaska's timber market, Wrangell City Manager Bob Prunella said his decision to turn down a $20,000 pay raise had everything to do with politics.

"It's just not the time in Wrangell to be giving a raise," he said. "They'd run me out of town on the rail."

During budget deliberations in May, Wrangell Mayor Fern Neimeyer suggested moving funding from a climbing wall budgeted for the city's parks and recreation department for the raise.

Prunella said he was surprised by the offer and immediately declined.

Neimeyer said she wanted to show appreciation for Prunella's hard work. The state of the town's economy, which is dependent on timber, probably had something to do with his decision, she said.

"He knows Wrangell and Wrangell is his home. He has more in stake here than if he was from Massachusetts or elsewhere," she said.

Neimeyer said Prunella's salary is $15,000 to $20,000 below that of other Wrangell city administrators. He was hired as interim city manager in September and asked to stay.

Prunella makes $68,000 a year plus benefits, far below the pay for city managers in Juneau, Ketchikan, Anchorage, Kenai and Fairbanks, according to an Alaska Municipal League survey. Juneau City Manager Dave Palmer makes $99,000 a year.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.

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