The Lawrence City Commission gave a pay raise and a thumbs-up to City Manager Mike Wildgen following his annual evaluation Monday afternoon.
The commissioners discussed Wildgen's job performance and the operation of the city in a closed session with the city manager that lasted close to two hours.
"We ended by very enthusiastically endorsing the operation of the city," said Commissioner Bob Schumm. "We also were generally very supportive of how Mike does his job."
The commissioners granted Wildgen a 2 percent pay raise, the maximum raise they would consider in frugal economic times, Mayor Bob Walters said.
"WE FEEL that Mike Wildgen is doing an excellent job," Walters said. "When you do some excellent work you should have a reward. Unfortunately, we're in a recession."
Wildgen described the session as productive and positive with a lot of give-and-take. "There were a lot of favorable comments and positive-type critiques," he said.
The city administrative services office reports that Wildgen's current salary is $79,331. The raise, which would put his salary at about $80,900, will go into effect in July.
In essence, the evaluation critiqued the entire city staff, Wildgen said. "From my perspective, it was wonderful to hear the support that the whole team got."
While the commissioners and Wildgen were tight-lipped about the specifics of the evaluation, they said they addressed a few concerns about the operation of the city.
SCHUMM SAID that improving public relations and the dissemination of information to the public was a concern of the commission.
"There was a general idea floating around that we want to have a greater level of input and output to our citizens," Schumm said. "We want to make it easier to comment on things. There also is a call for greater reporting of information to the public."
The commissioners and Wildgen also discussed improving communication between the commission and the city staff, and making their directions to city staff more explicit.
"We want to avoid waving our hands and saying, `Mike, why don't you take care of all this for us,'" Schumm said. "Instead, we should say, `Here's what we want you to find out and what you should do.'"
The commissioners also said they wanted to see city staff take more initiative in identifying city problems, said Commissioner John Nalbandian, and see more emphasis on the financial planning of capital improvements.
"I LEARNED a lot from the session," said Wildgen. "I would be naive to expect that everything in the city would be perfect."
Walters said he didn't expect any changes in city staff as a result of the evaluation, unless members of Wildgen's management team were lured to new positions because of their outstanding performance.
"We certainly do have some fine young people working with Mike, and unfortunately I don't believe we'll be able to keep them for long," said Walters.