Archive for Saturday, March 11, 2006

City manager leaves with $121K, raise

Severance pact based on Wildgen’s contract with city

March 11, 2006


Former City Manager Mike Wildgen, whose last day on the job was Friday, will receive his more than $121,000 annual salary through March 2007 and get a 3 percent raise.

City commissioners are expected to approve a separation agreement detailing the severance pact at their Tuesday evening meeting. Mayor Boog Highberger said the vast majority of the conditions had been included in Wildgen's employment contract that he signed last year.

"There were a few minor details that were up for interpretation, but I don't think anyone was interested in quibbling over small details," Highberger said.

Wildgen resigned under pressure Wednesday. He had been city manager since 1990.

It is common for managers and administrators who serve at the pleasure of a political board to have clauses in their contracts spelling out what they would receive in the event they are fired or asked to resign.

Among the details in the severance agreement:

¢ Wildgen, who had been with the city since 1974, will have his base salary of $121,144 increased by 3 percent, which was the cost-of-living increase given to other city employees - but not yet given to Wildgen - in 2006.

¢ He will agree to provide consulting services for the city through Aug. 31 in exchange for his normal salary.

¢ After Aug. 31, he will receive seven months of his base salary and a one-time $3,500 car allowance. Wildgen's past contracts have included $5,000 car allowances.

¢ His individual and family health care coverage will be maintained through March 31, 2007, and his life insurance policy also will be maintained.

¢ Wildgen will receive whatever longevity payment the city agrees to give other employees at the end of 2006. He will receive 25 percent of whatever longevity payment other city employees receive in 2007. In the past, that payment has been about $45 for each year of city service.

¢ The city will continue to contribute to Wildgen's retirement plan through March 31, 2007.

¢ The city will pay for travel expenses, registration and lodging while Wildgen attends the 2006 International City Manager Assn.'s annual conference in September in San Antonio. It also will pay his expenses to attend a similar statewide conference in November.

Wildgen, 58, resigned after a majority of commissioners expressed concern about street and sewer infrastructure challenges in the city. His resignation took effect at 5 p.m. Friday.

Wildgen issued a brief statement Wednesday expressing gratitude for the time he had served at City Hall, but has made no further comments about his resignation.

City commissioners will consider the severance agreement as part of their consent agenda at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

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Sigmund 12 years, 2 months ago

I am ......... just speechless, really.

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

Good insight, Merrill. All the problems of Lawrence would be solved if we would just ban houses!

warthog 12 years, 2 months ago

$121,000; car allowance; expenses to a conference; fringe benefits; longevity bonus... He's LEAVING the job, right?

Steve Jacob 12 years, 2 months ago

Plus he is on the payroll just long enough NOT to be able to run for city commission.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

Actually, Bush is responsible for very little. He's primarily a figure head of a corrupt and incompetent regime.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

Well, luny, I suppose if the entirety of Douglas County were declared a green "tourniquet" as you seem to be implying, that would become the facts. Fortunately, I expect that clearer heads will prevail, and the amount and exact location of green space will be carefully and logically chosen.

Sure, Tom, developers have been very important in development. But considering how much control they have historically exerted on city politics in order to give themselves a free hand in developing whatever they want, however they want, that means they share a good deal of the blame for the poor planning that has given us most of the problems that everyone on these boards complains about daily.

lunacydetector 12 years, 2 months ago

bozo, ...and when lawrence grows to these greenbelt areas in the future, it will be a big stop sign for any future growth and a huge loss in property taxes on top of the property taxes proposed to be taken from the citizens today.

there are the facts, and you know i am correct.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

That's a very superficial analysis of what would happen, luny.

The property taken off of the tax roles for green space would be land that currently has ag zoning, which has the lowest tax rates in the county, anyway. That land would only be taken off the roles as considerably more ag-zoned land is rezoned for development purposes-- residential, industrial, commercial, etc-- all of which has a much higher tax rate than ag-zoned land does.

So while you are correct that the green space itself wouldn't be taking in property tax monies, the net effect would be that considerably more is taken in in property tax revenues-- easily enough to pay off the up-front expenditures for preserving a bit of greenspace in newly urbanized areas.

Sorry if I've confused you with the facts.

jojo 12 years, 2 months ago

on the actual topic:

severance packages are very common. how was mr. wildgen employed for so long, if he did such a horrible job as city manager? he held the position while i lived there, for
8 years and i never once heard anyone complain about him.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

Yea, I'm really surprised he'd prefer his 10 thousand a month severance pay over the pay of a city commissioner, which is less than a tenth that much.

lunacydetector 12 years, 2 months ago

merrill, green space WILL cost all of us money since they (ECO2) are leaning at jacking up our property taxes to buy the green belt around our city. we would have to vote on a sales tax increase, but if they add it to property owners (like the back door deal they have suggested), they don't have to have a vote from the populus. so, the city takes from us, buys some land that removes the property from the taxrolls, and we lose-lose.

lunacydetector 12 years, 2 months ago

you sure you aren't living in da-da land ann? show me some tax incentives for the developers? or, are you saying it is okay to subsidize the greenies with some free land paid for by the taxpayers who will never see any property tax from said land forever, but somehow in your little closed minded world, developers are somehow getting a tax break?


Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

Jojo, the issues that have come to light in the past year (faulty data provided to paid consultants that resulted in bad planning, unrepaired streets, crumbling sewers, overflowing sanitary plants, the Eagle Bend boondoggle, to name a few) have been in the making for years.

Basic infrastructure needs were ignored while money was wasted on luxuries. The man who was in charge of making the city run for 16 years cannot go without blame when it becomes clear that the projects he was hired to manage were mismanaged.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 2 months ago


Green space does not cost taxpayers one dime until a house is set upon it. Property tax from a resident does not cover cost of services to that home thus a liability to taxpayers. The list of services is as long as your arm.

Green space demands nothing...thus zero maintenance. It does provide a sevice. Green space soaks up water and produces oxygen.

Back to Mike... his golden parachute is nothing compared to some multi million dollar deals that go down.

Ann 12 years, 2 months ago

Mike is a great man and has dedicated his life to this city. He does not deserve this public lynching.

The people everyone should be upset with is the developers running to the bank with our natural beautiful, now destructed countryside.

Shame on you materialistic Lawrence yuppies!!!

You as a community have changed Lawrence into Johnson County! nice work.

Glad I left Lawrence 10 years ago, and opted out of being a 3rd generation townie.

Create land trusts for the green space you have left, and hold the developers responsible for the repulsive expansion, not Mike!

I would hope If I dedicated my life to a job for 16 years I would get some compensation. Especially if I was forced out and publicly humiliated.

Take the money Mike you deserve it.

To everyone that whines about their tax dollars, look at the tax incentives you give developers.

trinity 12 years, 2 months ago

dang-i'd get fired from MY job, for that kind of money! basically do nothing but "consult" for six months, then watch soaps&eat

lunacydetector 12 years, 2 months ago

hmmm......he gets paid through march 2007. this ought to keep his mouth shut long enough for the new city commission election in april 2007....too bad, but smart for the commissoners.

jojo 12 years, 2 months ago

I am also a former(thankfully) resident of lawrence. i go back to visit every 3 or 4 years and everytime i go back it looks more and more like johnson county.

i believe that corporations do get incentives to move to KS. i believe that the biggest presence of amazon's is in coffeyville, john deer is headquartered in KS, Sprint's worldwide head quarters is located in KS. Owning a company, i know that states do try and lure corporations in with big insentives. which of course provide jobs. so it doesn't have to necessarily be a bad thing.

LD: have you ever been outside of lawrence, or outside of kansas, for any length of time? what i have seen, is a lot of places that didn't care about their natural resources and now are trying to reverse that. it's hard. it sickens me to go back and see land that i hunted and fished on as a kid, teenager and young adult, turned into
golf courses and suburbia. natural green spaces are free and we need to preserve as much as possible, not sell everything to developers and corporations.

i agree with the poster above. good job lawrence. you did turn your once very nice city into overland park. it looks as though down 10 highway the two cities will be connected very soon anyway.

one final note. lawrence, pick up your cigarette butts!

Godot 12 years, 2 months ago

$121K plus perks to be a consultant, presumably to help his successor learn the ropes.

By comparison, what was all the fuss about Bob Corkins spending $5,000 for a consultant to help him learn the ropes?

I see absolutely NO reason for him to be paid to go to the conferences. What good will the citizens of Lawrence get out of that? Supposedly employees attend conferences to represent the employer, gain knowledge and make contacts that will help them perform their jobs better. But sending a fired employee as our representative? What a joke!!!

My take on the severance lasting until next spring is that will get him to age 59-1/2 so he can start drawing on his retirement without a tax penalty.

canyon_wren 12 years, 2 months ago

What an unbelievable waste of taxpayers' money--I should think six months' salary would be maximum. I'm with trinity--we should all be so lucky.

I'm not saying he deserved to be forced to resign--haven't followed it to that extent, and it does sound like he accomplished a lot, but that much money is kind of sickening. I think it should be like the policy where (supposedly) you get alimony (if you're lucky) till you marry again. If he gets another job in the next year, the money from Lawrence ceases. But that would never happen.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 2 months ago

According to the article, this is just a fulfillment of the last contract he got, and it's part of the cost of a contract that can be cancelled at the will of the commission. It sounds like he will be required to consult, which is likely to consist of aiding in the transistion to a new manager.

The new provost at KU will be paid more than twice what Wildgen has been getting. I doubt that that job is really much more difficult than the job of city manager, and I expect that if they want to get a good replacement, the new city manager will likely cost more than what Wildgen has been recieving.

lunacydetector 12 years, 2 months ago

an 'on the street' question suggestion:

Do you respect our City Commissioners?

Yes or No

here's another suggested question:

Do you blame the City Commission or the City Manager for Lawrence's infrastructure problems?

jojo 12 years, 2 months ago


i am not saying that he is not partially to blame. however, you make it sound like he was the king of the city doing anything he wanted. on top of that he is such a brilliant mastermind that he was able to cover all this up for 15 years. i think you may be confused about the beaurcracy of how governments(city,state, etc) run. one person never does anything espescially the manager. generally, a lot of different departments and managers have to sign off on projects. maybe lawrence is so backwards, it has one guy called the city manager that does 100% of everything. no project managers, no staff, no mayor, no city council, no watchdog committees.

"Basic infrastructure needs were ignored while money was wasted on luxuries." what sort of luxuries? i am curious how you can make that statement, and not provide one example of said luxuries.

unplanned growth happens. it seems the city ran fine for 14 years then in your statement? seems like a pretty good run. i was back a couple of months ago and saw all sorts of new roads, schools, stoplights, businesses, houses, people.

do you happen to have a list of his job description and what projects he was specifically in charge of. not just the 5 bad ones that you mentioned.

also, have you ever been or heard of any city that had unplanned growth and needed a few more streets repaired, had some sewer issues. these are issues that all cities have. in a way it sounds like he is being used as a scape goat. for being such a horrible employee, it seems a bit odd that he has worked for the city for 32 years and now all of lawrences problems are his fault.

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