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Water execs in line for raise

General manager says their pay must rise to keep positions filled.

July 03, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago, christopher.cadelago@latimes.com

CITY HALL — Two weeks after city officials approved water rate hikes as part of the new budget, officials are recommending considerable pay raises for the utility's general manager and senior executives.

The City Council on Tuesday is scheduled to weigh new compensation packages that would raise top-range salaries between 7% and 11%.

Officials are recommending salary increases for Ron Davis, general manager of Burbank Water and Power, that increase incrementally over three years by 7%, 7.5% and 8%. Davis last year was paid a base salary of $217,799. His proposed salary increases pencil out to between $233,045 and $270,566, according to the report.

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Officials said the raises provide retention incentive and bring the general manager's pay range in line with a recent compensation survey by the American Public Power Assn.

"I am fully aware that there just couldn't be a worse time to do this. It's just horrid," Davis said Thursday. "These are good-paying jobs, and we should all be happy to have jobs. But if we cannot get people in these positions, and assemble the type of team I inherited, I am going to spend even more money and have your rates go even higher."

The proposal comes as public utilities across the country struggle to retain senior-level managers, who are either leaving for higher pay, more affordable areas or to retire.

Pasadena recently pushed through similar packages, and officials in Glendale are working on one of their own. In Burbank, executives recognized the trend nearly seven years ago and began recruiting. But those candidates are still five to 10 years away from upper-level management prospects, Davis said.

The salaries of other top managers are tied to Davis' salary and would be adjusted accordingly.

However, while the salary ranges are proposed to increase by 11%, incumbents can receive maximum annual increases of only 10%, according to current personnel policy. Davis said he would recommend across-the-board salary increases of 7.5% for incumbents as a way to further reduce the fiscal impact for 2010-11.

The proposal would provide raises of $19,647 for the vacant assistant general manager of power supply; $13,394 for two assistant general managers; $12,724 for the chief financial offer, $11,385 for the assistant general manager of customer service and marketing and $8,036 for the administrative officer.

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