Archive for Thursday, August 8, 2002

City manager receives praise after evaluation

August 8, 2002


If City Manager Mike Wildgen's job security seemed unsteady in January, it now appears solid.

At an unprecedented six-month job evaluation Wednesday, four of five Lawrence city commissioners said Wildgen had shown progress in making government more "user friendly" Â and voted him a pay raise.

That came after his regular annual evaluation in January, in which commissioners gave Wildgen six months to improve. They never specified what the consequences would be if he didn't.

"I think the communication level has improved," Mayor Sue Hack said after Wednesday's two-hour, closed-door session. "We felt very strongly that Mike has done an excellent job answering those concerns."

In January, commissioners gave Wildgen a 3 percent pay raise, from $116,000 to just over $119,000. They added 2 percent on Wednesday, bringing his salary to roughly $122,000 a year. He also receives a $5,000 car allowance and other perks.

Commissioner Mike Rundle was the lone vote against the raise. He said later he still had concerns about the way Wildgen handles day-to-day operations of city government.

"I think Lawrence could move more effectively if we had a different manager, or if this manager would make some major changes," Rundle said.

Wildgen said Wednesday's session was "positive and productive. I think we've made progress."

After the January evaluation, commissioners said Wildgen:

 Was sometimes rude with the public.

Hack said Wednesday that was now less of a concern.

"We've got lots and lots of letters and e-mails and phone calls from people expressing specific kindnesses Mike has shown in various areas and their contentment with that," she said.

 Could do a better providing information to commissioners, particularly on budget matters.

That's improved.

"I felt very comfortable with the budget process this year," Hack said. "We got lots of information."

 Had no process for evaluating city policies and practices.

Hack said Wednesday that Wildgen was planning to have city department heads develop a process for identifying progress toward meeting the commission's goals. She said staff had been cooperative.

Wildgen said his staff had worked to put more information on the city's Web site, as well as invite more public input into city processes.

Hack said the commission would return to its tradition of yearly evaluations for the city manager, starting in January.

"I feel I get evaluated daily," Wildgen said. "Any Tuesday, things could change. I work for five commissioners, and one of their jobs is to critique my performance at any time."

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