CLEARWATER — City Manager Bill Horne and City Attorney Pam Akin haven't gotten raises in five years. The salaries of the city's two highest-paid employees have remained static during a long period of belt-tightening for Clearwater's government.
Every other Clearwater employee has gotten a raise since 2007. So tonight, the City Council seems inclined to give Horne and Akin raises of at least 5 percent.
Horne earns $161,085 a year; Akin, $148,694.
Under Clearwater's form of government, they are the only two employees who work directly for the City Council; all the other employees are supervised by the city manager and city attorney.
Horne and Akin consistently get high marks when evaluated by the council. And the two officials are underpaid compared to their peers in similar cities, according to a survey done by Clearwater's human resources department.
During Tuesday's work session, the council discussed the idea of giving Horne and Akin raises. Out of the five council members, Mayor George Cretekos emerged as the sole opponent of a significant salary increase.
Cretekos noted that most of Clearwater's other employees have just agreed to changes in their pension plan, including larger employee contributions, to keep the plan viable.
The mayor doesn't think the city's first move after that should be salary hikes for the top two employees.
"You're looking at a base of $160,000," Cretekos said, comparing Horne's salary to the average city employee's salary of $30,000. "Five percent of $160,000 is an awful lot of money to somebody who makes $30,000 a year."
He further suggested that any raise for Horne and Akin be structured as a bonus instead of a permanent salary increase.
However, none of the other council members agreed Tuesday. They noted that, during the same time period, Clearwater police officers have received a 33 percent raise.
"A one-time bonus, to me, is a slap in the face," said council member Jay Polglaze.
"These are not $30,000-a-year jobs," said Vice Mayor Paul Gibson. "Education, experience, responsibility — you've got to look at that."
Council member Bill Jonson suggested a 5 percent raise.
Gibson, Polglaze and council member Doreen Hock-DiPolito sounded like they were prepared to go higher than that at the council's public meeting tonight, which begins at 6 at City Hall.
"From 2007 to today, they have not received any increase in their pay," said Hock-DiPolito, who calculated that it would take raises of at least 15 percent to bring the two officials in line with most of their peers in other cities.
Horne has been city manager since 2000. Akin has been in her position for 18 years.
Mike Brassfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4151. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.