Council OKs $6,000 raise for city manager

April 5, 2012

By Christina Lords

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After evaluating City Manager Rob Wyman’s performance on the job, the Newcastle City Council has approved a $6,000 raise for the position.

The raise — increasing Wyman’s annual salary from $110,000 to $116,000 — will be retroactive to Jan. 1 and includes two additional days of merit leave for 2012.

Wyman was hired as interim city manager in January 2010, and the council selected him as the permanent city manager that August. This is his first raise since taking the position.

The council also assigned Wyman seven goals to work on this year.

Rob Wyman

The goals include demonstrating efficient use of expenditures while maximizing revenue sources, accomplishing objectives set by the council in the 2012 budget, promoting economic development in town, maintaining a positive staff performance for employees and developing a communication strategy with residents.

Wyman’s performance was evaluated in several executive sessions prior to the resolution amending his contract being placed on the council’s March 20 consent agenda — a series of items bundled and voted upon without discussion.

Although a city employee’s performance or qualifications can be evaluated in executive session by a governmental body, a decision, consent among the body or final action relating to a city employee’s salaries or wages must be discussed in a public meeting, according to state law.

The newest member of the council, Gordon Bisset, pulled the item from the consent agenda, stating he didn’t agree with the increase as Newcastle faces projected reductions in revenue as the city navigates the country’s worst economic hardship since the Great Depression.

Bisset was the dissenting vote in the 6-1 decision.

Newcastle Mayor Rich Crispo said he and Deputy Mayor Lisa Jensen put together the proposal and the raise helps reflect the desire for Wyman to make a comparable wage to other cities with a similar position.

Crispo said no vote was taken and no consensus was achieved during the executive sessions in regard to how much the raise would be.

“It was probably a mistake on our part to just have it on the consent agenda, although it was not illegal or anything like that,” Crispo said. “There’s no vote that was taken. That just doesn’t happen in executive session.”

Councilwoman Carol Simpson said while she supported the raise, she was grateful Bisset opted to open discussion on the resolution.

“I’m glad council member Bisset pulled this item from the consent agenda,” Simpson said. “We are supposed to set the salary in a public meeting and putting it on the consent agenda is just a little bit less visible. It doesn’t enter any discussion into the record about this.”

Crispo cited Wyman’s recent contract renegotiations with the King County Sheriff’s Office and the city of Bellevue for Newcastle’s police and fire services — which make up more than half of the city’s budget —as examples of how Wyman has made a difference for the city.

“He has done some very significant things for us,” Crispo said. “He has a very good relationship with residents of this city, and he’s a known quantity.  He worked here previously in the planning department … he’s the kind of guy who will make things work.”

Councilman Steve Buri said Wyman has proven himself to be an asset to the community, and he said the increase was reasonable and comparable to other cities.

Despite tough budgetary times, Wyman is still making significantly less than his city manager predecessor, John Starbard, who made $133,000 annually, he said.

“This is still a $20,000 reduction from where we were previously,” Buri said.

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