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Burbank employee raises to save city money via higher pension contributions

Some employees will contribute more to their own health plans.

May 15, 2013|By Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

Roughly 100 Burbank employees are slated to receive raises this coming fiscal year after a city-commissioned survey showed their salaries were well below average when compared to those in a dozen other local cities, officials said.

Officials say the move will actually save Burbank money since the contracts will require employees to contribute more to their pensions.

Department heads will receive a 2% salary hike, while roughly 85 employees not represented by unions will see their compensation jump between 1% and 5%. In July, those employees will also start paying half of the 8% member pension contribution, according to a city report.

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Interim City Manager Ken Pulskamp said the salary boosts allow the city to remain competitive as an employer. The dozen or so cities listed in the salary survey include Glendale, Pasadena and Santa Monica, according to Justin Hess, interim assistant city manager.

“It’s clearly in the public’s best interest to have a management group that is motivated and compensated fairly,” Pulskamp said. “We want to make sure we are taking the necessary steps to make that happen so that we don’t have people leaving the city and then being in a position of having to do expensive recruitment and losing all the organizational history and knowledge that those people had.”

All executives last year earned more than $150,000. Even so, their salaries fall 11% below the average of the market survey, Pulskamp said. He added that the majority of executives and unrepresented employees have not received raises since 2008.

“They lost all of their merit pay, and they have lost a significant amount of money out-of-pocket that is going toward compensation for their retirement, which they previously didn’t have to pay for,” Pulskamp said.

Including the city’s savings from employee member contributions over the last two years, the city expects to save roughly $600,000 through the end of this coming fiscal year.

Pulskamp, along with Burbank Water and Power General Manager Ron Davis, are excluded from the raises. The salary for the permanent city manager will be set during the recruitment process.

The largest salary jumps scheduled are for police captains, the assistant city treasurer and the assistant director of risk management and safety. Come July, each will get a 5% raise.

While City Atty. Amy Albano's 2% raise will be put on hold pending her employee evaluation, she will be pocketing an extra $464 a month due to changes in her healthcare plan. According to a city report, she no longer requires insurance for two people, and will receive the difference in cash.

“The amount of money the city pays ends up being same,” Pulskamp said, adding that her salary – which is currently set at $18,334 a month – falls 14% below the average, according to the city's survey.

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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