TOPS OF THE HEAP
Here is a list of annual salaries for top-level city employees this year:
Mike Wildgen, city manager, $89,253.
Rod Bremby, assistant city manager, $70,402.
George Williams, public works director, $70,241.
Jim McSwain, fire chief, $70,210.
Ron Olin, police chief, $69,793.
Roger Coffey, utilities director, $68,049.
Price Banks, planning director, $66,542.
Lynn Goodell, director of housing and neighborhood development, $64,893.
Fred DeVictor, director of parks and recreation, $62,955.
Ray Hummert, director of administrative services/city clerk, $62,955.
Ray Samuel, director of human relations/human resources, $62,773.
Ed Mullins, finance director, $62,461.
A $30,000 study will analyze whether city employees are being paid fair wages.
By Mark Fagan
Lawrence almost lost a productive data technician last year to a higher paying job in nearby Kansas City.
Almost is the key word. City Manager Mike Wildgen is happy to report the employee stayed on with the city, but Wildgen still wants to review the city's 17-year-old salary schedule to make sure good employees don't slip away.
"There's lots of people I'd like to pay a lot more money to," said Wildgen, who as city manager signs off on all pay increases for 535 full-time employees. "We've got a lot of long-time employees, but if you're underpaying, people will move on you."
The city will be interviewing five consultants this week for a comprehensive review of the city's salary and classification schedule. The study, estimated to cost $30,000, will determine whether municipal government is paying competitive wages compared with the private sector, Wildgen said.
Competitive can take on different interpretations, he said. Kansas City may provide higher-paying jobs, but intangibles such as quality of life, commuter time and cultural activities can offset some of the difference.
The last time the city reviewed its salary schedule was in 1977.
"We're lucky in Lawrence," Wildgen said. "People want to stay in Lawrence. They're saying, `I like the lifestyle.'"
Last year, 303 of the city's 535 full-time employees received merit pay increases. Another 270 had reached the tops of their pay scales as of March 1, exempting them from possible merit increases.
A handful of employees do not earn merit increases each year, said Karen DeGasperi, personnel specialist. A salary recommendation from each employee's immediate supervisor -- based on criteria in the city's personnel handbook -- is forwarded through the ranks, to be approved by Wildgen.
Merit pay increases may be either 2.5 percent or 5 percent. Once an employee reaches the top of the position's pay scale -- which typically takes five to six years -- he or she then is eligible for "longevity pay," which pays employees an extra $3.50 a month for up to 20 years.
That's an extra $840 a year after 20 years.
"Our goal is to attract good people here," Wildgen said. "There are a lot of people who have worked their hearts out for 25 years."