In a sign of the city's fiscal woes, City Manager David Corliss today turned down a raise in his salary as part of his annual evaluation.
Mayor Sue Hack said commissioners agreed to give Corliss a raise, but the second-year city manager declined to accept it.
"I thought to assist in driving home the message to our employees about the city's fiscal situation, it would be best to respectfully decline a salary increase," Corliss said.
Both Hack and Corliss declined to reveal how large of an increase in salary was offered to Corliss, who makes $130,000 per year. But commissioners did express unanimous support for the job Corliss had done in leading the city's staff.
"We feel fortunate to have Dave Corliss as our city manager," Hack said.
Hack said that Corliss had done a good job of hiring quality staff members, and had made sure city commissioners were well informed on issues.
Keeping commissioners informed about the city's precarious financial position will be a top priority for Corliss in 2008, commissioners said. Corliss said that he'll be keeping a close eye on the city's sales tax collections and other revenue sources. He said he is concerned that the slowing economy will cause the city's 2008 revenue to come in less than projected.
"Revenues are not going to be where we want them to be this year," Corliss said. "We're already beginning to make adjustments."
Corliss said he and his staff of managers are closely reviewing purchase orders from departments. He also is looking at open city positions and deciding whether they need to be filled immediately. For example, Corliss said he has decided to not advertise for a new Parks and Recreation Director in 2008. Instead, acting director Ernie Shaw will continue in the interim role for the rest of the year.
Corliss said he has not yet ordered layoffs of existing staff members, but he's not ruling that possibility out.
"We may end up at that point," Corliss said. "We'll just have to see."
Commissioners also directed Corliss to work on ways to improve trust levels between the city and its citizens. Commissioners were heavily criticized in the latter part of 2007 for not being transparent enough when offering a package of economic development incentives to a start-up pharmaceuticals company.
Corliss said city staff would "redouble" their efforts in providing information to the public ahead of decisions by commissioners, and would stress the importance and value of public comment.
Corliss was hired in September 2006 to become the city's manager. He had served as the city's interim city manager for several months in 2006, while the city conducted a nationwide search to fill the position. He previously had served 16 years on the city's management staff, primarily as assistant city manager and director of legal services.