Eckert asks to forgo pay raise this year under proposed contract

  • May 21, 2011

SIOUX CITY -- City Manager Paul Eckert has asked his bosses not to include a pay raise for him this year in a proposed four-year contract they'll discuss Monday.

Eckert's base salary would remain at $148,633 through June 30, 2012. Not receiving a salary increase would be at Eckert's request, according to a report the City Council by Bridey Hayes, human resources director, said. After July 1, 2012, the council could make salary adjustments under the proposed compact.

Department heads and supervisors, including those in the city's police and fire departments, did not get a raise last year and will not get one in the upcoming fiscal year, according to Eckert. And during the fiscal 2012 budgeting process, the city cut 14 full-time positions as part of an effort to avert a tax increase for residential property owners.

Eckert's current, two-year contract expires May 31, 2012. The council can amend that contract up until eight months before it expires, Mayor Pro Tem Tom Padgett said at Friday's mayor's press conference.

"We lose the ability to amend it if we do it beyond that date," Padgett said.

Additionally, delaying a contract vote could place the decision in the hands of a new council. In November, voters will elect a mayor and one council member as Mayor Mike Hobart and Councilman Aaron Rochester near the end of their respective four-year terms.

The council is scheduled to hold a closed session Monday afternoon to continue its annual evaluation of Eckert. Padgett said Mayor Mike Hobart plans to return to Sioux City to attend that meeting.

Hobart had not planned to be at a council meeting until June 6 since he has been visiting his daughter and new grandchild in Idaho.

"We want all five council members to vote on Paul's contract," Padgett told the Journal. "With Mike being back, the contract was placed on the agenda. We could, if need be, postpone a vote if there were more things we needed to discuss."

For instance, the proposed contract calls for a three-year extension, but the council could change the term of the agreement, Padgett noted. Additionally, he said the council still is discussing some clauses in the pact that deal with severance pay or what would happen should Eckert chose to take another job.

"It's very costly when you have to dismiss someone," he stated. "We're not going to bind anybody. ... We want to protect the city."

Eckert has worked for the city since 1997, when he was hired as assistant to City Manager Craig Whitehead. He moved to Sioux City from Morgan Hill, Calif., where he was the finance director.

After the council and Whitehead parted company Dec. 31, 2001, the council named Eckert interim city manager and then manager in March of 2002. He started at an annual salary of $97,000, which was $1,000 less than Whitehead's pay. Eckert worked without a contract for four years.

In 2004, the council unanimously agreed to give Eckert a $17,600 raise, to $114,600, his first pay increase since he had been named manager. He has received several raises since then.

Eckert has a master's degree in public administration from California State University, East Bay in Hayward, where he also received his undergraduate degree. He is a veteran of the U.S. Marines Corps.

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