Newly anointed City Manager Bill Horne is asking for a $130,000 annual salary, which is more than top administrators in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Pinellas County now earn.
But city officials say the suggested pay for Horne is appropriate, based on a statewide survey of municipal pay scales. Horne made $100,000 annually as an assistant manager before being chosen recently for the city's top job, pending the approval of his contract by the City Commission on Aug. 2.
"Knowing what some other managers are paid in cities of our size, I'm comfortable with that number," Commissioner Hoyt Hamilton said Thursday of Horne's salary proposal. "I'm sure Bill's going to work very hard for every penny."
A recent survey, compiled for the City Commission, revealed an average salary of $125,872 for the managers of regional cities traditionally compared with Clearwater because of similar size and other characteristics.
The survey also looked at cities strictly based on population. Based on an additional comparison of the five next-largest and next-smallest cities to Clearwater in Florida, the average salary for city managers was $135,141.
"I think that (the $130,000 salary) is even still below market value," Mayor Brian Aungst said this week, reached on a family trip in Pennsylvania.
But the $130,000 proposed salary would be a jump for the city. Some other local salaries to consider:
Horne's predecessor, Mike Roberto, was making $110,000 a year when he resigned last year under pressure. He got a severance package worth $161,484, city records show.
Before retiring as Pinellas County administrator, Fred Marquis made $129,775 annually while overseeing a $1.5-billion budget, county records indicate. The county's interim administrator makes $124,500.
Tampa, nearly triple the size of Clearwater, pays its mayor $135,012 to run the city and has a city administrator under the mayor who makes $121,389.
St. Petersburg, more than double Clearwater's size, pays a mayor $100,000 to run the city and a top administrator $119,500.
Horne said it's not fair to compare Clearwater with St. Petersburg and Tampa, because those cities' taxpayers are actually paying two people to be the cities' top administrators.
In Clearwater, the city manager is responsible for city operations and reports to the City Commission. The mayor has no day-to-day management responsibilities.
Horne added that he believes the new Pinellas County administrator will make more than $130,000. The salary range for the county job has been set at $117,500 to $182,200 annually.
City commissioners will consider Horne's employment contract Aug. 2. They received copies of Horne's proposed contract this week, after the St. Petersburg Times requested a copy of it.
Commissioners discussed the salary once this year while going through the city manager search process, and at that time, most seemed supportive of an increase in pay for the city's new chief administrator.
In addition to the base salary, Horne's proposed contract guarantees him six months of severance pay if he is fired with no cause given. On top of that, he could earn up to six additional months of severance pay, with one month's pay for every year of service.
By contrast, Roberto's contract guaranteed him up to eight months of severance pay.
Horne's proposed contract also obliges the city to pay a sum equal to 15 percent of his salary into a city pension plan and allows Horne to take 35 days of general leave annually, in addition to covering him under a variety of insurance plans. Horne would have a $600 monthly car allowance, too.
Municipal pay brackets
The new city manager of Clearwater, a city of 109,000, could make $130,000 annually. Here's a look at how that salary would compare with the pay of top officials in other Florida cities:
City/Job Population Pay
Tampa mayor+ 303,447 $135,012
St. Petersburg mayor+ 248,232 $100,000
Pinellas Co. administrator 878,499 $124,500
Sarasota manager 51,000 $125,807
Orlando manager 185,951 $153,816
Gainesville manager 95,447 $114,352
Lakeland manager 78,452 $116,336
Tallahassee manager 150,624 $136,115
Hollywood manager 139,357 $132,811
+Strong mayor government where mayor is in charge
Source: Clearwater salary survey