RACINE — If City Administrator Tom Friedel decides to stay on in his position, he will see his contract extended by two years, and get a $10,000 increase in his $99,237 salary.
That was the decision made by the City Council Tuesday night which discussed the issue for more than an hour before voting 8-6 to approve the adjustment.
The proposal to increase Friedel’s salary by $10,000 — a $5,000 increase the first year, and a $5,000 increase the second year — came from Alderman Q.A. Shakoor.
While the salary increase proposal was contentious and spurred several motions, the vote to extend the contract by two years was approved 10-2.
The City Council discussion on Friedel’s contract and salary comes about three weeks after Mayor John Dickert and Deputy City Attorney Scott Letteney approached the Finance and Personnel Committee requesting that Friedel’s contract be extended by two years and his salary increased by 31 percent.
Under their proposal, Friedel’s current annual salary of $99,237 would climb to $115,000 on July 13, and then to $130,000 one year later.
Dickert and Letteney have said such an increase is justifiable, and necessary if the city wants to bring compensation for the position in line with what city administrators in similar communities are paid.
Friedel, 64, said last month that he did not know if he would stay on in the job if a pay raise was not approved.
In letter to aldermen last week he wrote that while he “never made any demands for a specific salary,” he did ask to receive a pay increase that would put his “salary at a level more consistent” with his predecessors and “peers in the region.”
While it is still not clear what Friedel’s plans are, among the items referred to the Finance and Personnel Committee during the Tuesday City Council meeting were two items requesting money the city might need if it needs to find a new administrator.
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The first is a request for $26,950 from the city’s contingency fund to pay for a national search for a new city administrator.
The second request seeks $11,600 in contingency funds to make sure the city has enough money to pay the fourth quarter salary of a new city administrator.
Neither Dickert nor Friedel were present for the meeting.
Addressing the City Council during the public comment period, former 11th District Alderman Greg Helding said the council would be wise to hold on to Friedel, calling the administrator “well-qualified and battle tested.”
“As an alderman I worked with three city administrators, and I can honestly say that Tom is the best,” he said.
Outgoing City Development Director Brian O’Connell also spoke in favor of keeping Friedel in the job, as well as giving him a raise.
“Six years ago Tom gave the city a discount on that position. . . . The coupons have expired. The position cost more before he took it, it will cost more after he took it. To borrow a phrase: It’s cheaper to keep him,” he said.
Three citizens also spoke against the position as well as the raise.
Tresa Johnson, 62, said she and her neighbors were “appalled” by the request for a 31 percent raise and said if the city had enough money to pay for such an increase, where was the money to fix the street in her neighborhood or turn the streetlights back on.