RACINE — Two weeks after Mayor John Dickert proposed a 31 percent pay hike for City Administrator Tom Friedel, aldermen will meet to debate the issue.
Committee of the Whole members will have two items to consider when they meet Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 730 Washington Ave.
One is a communication asking whether Friedel’s six-year contract with the city, which expires July 12, should be extended. The other is a communication asking them to consider a salary adjustment for the position.
Discussion of Friedel’s contract and the city administrator’s salary began on May 26 when Dickert and Deputy City Attorney Scott Letteney approached the Finance and Personnel Committee requesting that Friedel’s salary be increased by 31 percent over two years.
The committee voted 2-1 to back the proposal, but the request quickly drew fire from critics, including aldermen who said such a large pay increase for one position would deal a blow to already damaged morale among city workers.
Under the 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.
The city’s police union sent a letter to Dickert expressing its dismay over the pay hike request, calling the proposed raise “exorbitant,” and wondering where the city was going to find the money for the increase.
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Dickert said officials would look for funds for the raise during the upcoming budget process.
He and Letteney said they must increase the city administrator salary if they want to keep compensation for the position competitive.
Showing finance committee members what city administrators and managers in similar Wisconsin cities are paid – including municipalities like Racine that have both a full-time mayor and a full-time city administrator – Letteney noted that Waukesha pays its city administrator $155,000 and Kenosha pays $145,828.
Letteney also noted that previous Racine administrators have also made more money than Friedel.
Unlike Friedel, however, those administrators had backgrounds in city management before being hired for the job.
Racine’s first city administrator, Stephen Nenonen, hired in 2003, received $121,939 in 2006, his last full year with the city. Ben Hughes earned $117,418 in 2008, in his last full year.
Currently the highest paid staff member at City Hall is City Attorney Rob Weber, who makes $113,547 a year.
When the Committee of the Whole meets on Wednesday night it could make any number of recommendations regarding Friedel’s contract and pay.
The City Council, which meets on June 16, could either support the committee’s recommendation or take another route.