Assembly OKs $12,000 pay hike for city manager

Posted: Friday, July 06, 2001

Juneau City Manager Dave Palmer is getting a $12,000 salary increase, his first since 1999.

The Juneau Assembly unanimously approved the increase after an executive session closed-door meeting Monday night, said Mayor Sally Smith, who headed a three-person evaluation committee that made a recommendation to the Assembly about the issue.

Palmer's salary will increase from $99,891 a year to $112,000, not including benefits. Smith said no changes were made to Palmer's benefit package. The raise is retroactive to April.

"He takes a lot pressure and heat from people and handles it well and handles it with humor. He doesn't shy away from controversial issues," Smith said.

The raise brings Palmer in line with cost-of-living increases other city employees have received, said Assembly member Don Etheridge, who also served on the evaluation committee. Palmer does a good job of handling complaints from the public about city issues, he said.

"People won't always agree with him, but at least he'll listen. He does an excellent job that way," Etheridge said.

Palmer serves at the pleasure of the Assembly. Other communities give managers a contract and/or a car allowance, which Juneau does not, Smith said.

The city is trying to adjust the pay of supervisors who make less than the people they supervise in some cases, Palmer said.

"In part, I think the Assembly was responding to that compression of wages when they reviewed my salary. And that's what I asked them to look at," he said.

Palmer said he declined a pay raise in fiscal year 2000 because of a tight city budget.

The 12 percent pay increase brings Palmer's salary closer to that of managers in similar communities, Smith said. The Assembly reviewed a study of city manager pay in communities on the Pacific Coast of between 25,000 to 50,000 people. The average pay was $120,659, Smith said.

Other city employees have received a series of 2 to 3 percent pay increases over the past few years, plus separate merit increases, said Greg O'Claray, governmental affairs director of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, the union that represents a majority of the city's employees.

The union doesn't represent city management and prefers not to comment on executive salaries, he said.

Palmer has worked for the city of Juneau since 1991 and has been the city manager since 1995.

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