Mayor's employees receive raises
BY BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
4/22/07 at 3:46 AM
One councilor says he's outraged at the salary boosts, but another says it's Taylor's call.
View a spreadsheet showing the names, titles, departments and salaries of every City of Tulsa employee.
Mayor Kathy Taylor's 13 at-will employees saw raises ranging from 8 percent to 22 percent in January, even though most of them began working for the city less than a year ago.
Four of the employees came to City Hall as recently as August and September.
They also are receiving one-time stipends averaging 2 percent of their salaries when they reach six months with the city.
"We had to start running the Mayor's Office immediately after I took office April 10 and really had no transition period," Taylor said in defense of the raises.
"We hired the absolute best people we could find, but we didn't really know all of what their jobs were going to entail," she said. "Their responsibilities have evolved over the last several months."
Councilor Bill Christiansen, who has been a critic of administration salaries during his tenure, said he was outraged to learn of the Mayor's Office raises.
"I don't think these raises were due," he said. "Who else in the city of Tulsa has gotten raises like these after being on the job less than a year?"
Taylor said that as the city's union and nonunion workers were receiving raises averaging 8 percent in January, she felt it was the right time to ad just the salaries in her office.
As for the stipends, they mirror those given to the rest of the city's nonunion employees in September. It was touted by the administration as a way to tide employees over until the raises at the start of the year.
Taylor said it's about rewarding "a team that gives 150 percent."
"If they were working in the private sector, they would be making more," she said. "They deserve every penny."
Christiansen agreed that Taylor has hired quality employees.
"But they have to realize they're 5 working for the betterment of the city of Tulsa," he said. "We have other employees who have taken it on the chin for years and are still below market rate."
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1180 President Mark Stodghill said there's usually a yearlong period before an employee receives a raise.
The union negotiates raises for the city's labor and trades employees, 911 workers and airport safety officers.
"The city work force is like a big family, and when a small segment is being treated differently than the rest, there will be dissension," he said.
The mayor's 13 at-will employees include:
- Lisa Mosely, a carryover from former Mayor Bill LaFortune's administration, who was the lowest paid staffer in Taylor's office, making $23,463 to be the front desk receptionist. Her new salary after receiving a 22 percent raise is $28,546.
- Susan Neal joined the mayor's staff May 15 and is the education and legislative liaison and oversees a number of depart ments. She received a 17 percent raise, bumping her salary from $76,099 to $89,026.
- Josh Davis joined the mayor's team April 11 as an aide but is now a policy and research analyst. He received a 12.5 percent raise, increasing his salary from $37,565 to $42,256.
- Christian Helm started April 25 and Monroe Nichols began working May 16 as aides. Both received 11 percent raises, bumping their salaries from $33,395 to $37,116.
Taylor's eight additional at-will employees received 8 percent salary raises.
- Deputy Mayor Tom Baker, who started work April 11, saw his salary increase from $82,309 to $89,026.
- General Counsel Nancy Siegel, who originated the position Sept. 1, had her pay raised from $87,803 to $94,968.
- Communications Director Sheryl Lovelady, who began Aug. 1, had her salary increased from $82,309 to $89,026.
- Chief Technology Officer Ben Stout, who joined the city Aug. 1, received a salary raise from $125,000 to $135,204. A portion, $30,000, comes from the Tulsa Community Foundation.
Stout is the fourth highest paid employee in the city's government, behind Public Works Department Director Charles Hardt, who earns $171,304; City Physician Phillip Berry, who makes $161,537; and Fire Chief Allen LaCroix, who earns $145,344. Police Chief Dave Been is ranked fifth, making $132,476.
- Economic Development and Real Estate Director Don Himelfarb, who joined the city Sept. 5, received a pay raise from $105,000 to $113,568.
- Deputy Director of Policy and Research Monica Barczak, who came to work for the mayor June 24, received a salary raise from $62,548 to $67,652.
- Mayoral Scheduler Leslie Meade, who started April 10, had her pay increased from $43,946 to $47,532.
- Monica Hamilton, another LaFortune carryover, was moved from heading up neighborhood outreach and services to leading the Mayor's Action Center. Her pay was increased from $40,630 to $43,946.
Shortly after taking office, Taylor announced she would not draw the mayor's $105,000 salary. That leaves more money in the Mayor's Office budget for her at-will staff, she said.
"To be able to get the best and keep the best, I'm willing to forgo that," Taylor said.
Finance officials said that through January, the Mayor's Office had spent $603,000 of its $1.087 million salary budget. With a payroll of roughly $94,000 per month, there should be a small balance at the end of the fiscal year July 1.
"If Mayor Taylor were taking her salary, it would be a budget buster," City Budget Director Pat Connelly said.
The mayor is allowed to have up to 16 at-will employees, but she has only 13 at this time.
Council Chairman Bill Martinson said he doesn't have a problem with the raises.
It's not uncommon in business to hire someone in at one level, and once their performance is evaluated, adjust their salary accordingly, he said.
"As long as the mayor is keeping her budget in check, she can allocate the paychecks the way she wants," Martinson said.
But Christiansen said the mayor should be more frugal, especially when she's supportive of tax increases to subsidize EMSA and through the establishment of municipal fire districts.
Taylor can assign an unlimited number of civil service employees to work directly for the Mayor's Office.
She now has six on her staff who are paid through various city departments, not from her office budget. All of those employees received raises in January with the rest of the city's nonunion employees.
Brian Barber 581-8322