News

Top Palo Alto officials to get raises

City Council prepares to approve 'merit-based' raises

Update The City Council voted 8-1, with Greg Tanaka dissenting, on Nov. 6 to approve salary increases for the four council-appointed officers. Read more here.

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City Manager James Keene. Weekly file photo.

City Attorney Molly Stump. Courtesy city of Palo Alto.

City Auditor Harriet Richardson. Courtesy city of Palo Alto.

City Clerk Beth Minor. Weekly file photo.
Palo Alto's four City Council-appointed officers -- City Manager James Keene, City Attorney Molly Stump, City Auditor Harriet Richardson and City Clerk Beth Minor -- are about to get pay raises.

The council is prepared to approve on Monday night a 5 percent raise for Keene and Stump and a 4 percent raise for Richardson and Minor. Because the four officials don't belong to any of the city's labor groups, the "merit-based increase" is the only mechanism the council has for increasing the compensation of the only four officials whom it directly appoints.

According to a Human Resources Department report that the city released Thursday evening, the increases were based on an evaluation of each of the four officials -- a process that typically begins in May and lasts several months. The council will vote on the salary adjustments on Monday.

The adjustment means that Keene's annual salary will go up from $298,542 to $313,477, while Stump's will increase from $270,712 to $284,253. Richardson's salary will go from $180,315 to $187,533; Minor's will go from $141,149 to $146,846.

The new salaries are retroactive to July 1, according to the staff report.

The salary adjustments for the four council-appointed officers are lower than those that the council had recently approved for much of the workforce. Last year, the council approved a three-year contract for the roughly 600 workers represented by the Service Employees International Union, which offered a 7.5 percent raise spread out over the three years along with further increases based on a market study.

The city's main police and firefighter unions -- the Palo Alto Police Officers' Association and the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 1319, also received 7.5 percent salary hikes spread out over three years, along with market adjustments. And earlier this year, the council approved a 15.5 percent salary increase with the city's four fire battalion chiefs.

According to the staff report, the raises for the four council-appointed officers will add about $55,000 in costs to the city budget.

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Comments

47 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2017 at 9:56 am

This article makes the strongest case for Libertarianism.

If government has the power to give themselves raises with impunity (and then raise taxes some), then how are they not absolute Parasites?

This is the *Wildfire* growth of government the Founding Fathers warned about, and its happening right in front of our eyes.


54 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 3, 2017 at 10:41 am

Annette is a registered user.

Who wrote the report? Below is some comparative data I hope CC keeps in mind when reviewing compensation. #s are base comp only; most have additional compensation such as allowances for housing and transportation.

We have a hard working governor who I think has more responsibility than any CA City Manager. And yet . . .

Governor's salary: $196,000
Mtn View (pop 77,846) CM salary: $274,254
Palo Alto (pop 67,024) CM salary: $298,542
Santa Clara (pop 125,948) CM salary: $372,886
Sunnyvale (pop 152,771) CM salary: $271,216


44 people like this
Posted by not good news
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2017 at 11:07 am

Sad to hear about raises to already over compensated employees that are running our City into the ground. Our bloated pension system points to a complete bankrupt state in the 10 - 15 year time frame. Not sure if all of the Googles, Facebooks, Apples can steer the State of Calif. to a solvent state.


21 people like this
Posted by Marj
a resident of Walter Hays School
on Nov 3, 2017 at 11:47 am

This is so sad. The City Employees can't afford to live in this area, pay money to come work here, and are not getting paid what is comparable to other Cities in the area. Yet they do not receive the type of pay raises that the administration does. Many have taken on many more duties and are not compensated for the other jobs they take on when others leave the City.
They say "We can't afford to do so". If they can get raises why cant they pay into the pension funds properly? So much mismanagement.


25 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 3, 2017 at 12:02 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

City folks are not worth the money they are paid now.
Only vote or make pay raises effective AFTER you leave the job.
The money must be in the hands of the people who pay the city taxes.
That is one of the reasons the US was founded.


44 people like this
Posted by Outrageous!!!
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 3, 2017 at 12:14 pm

These guys are so overpaid. Let's see who on Council votes for this. This will let us know who we should *not* vote for at the next election.


30 people like this
Posted by C-
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 3, 2017 at 12:16 pm

C- is a registered user.

Once again, everyone agrees how terrible this behavior is in the comments, but votes the same way in local elections. If you are tired of being ripped off, let them know at the pols.


21 people like this
Posted by Retro
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2017 at 12:23 pm

Gotta love how the make it retroactive. Beautiful.


23 people like this
Posted by A voting citizen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 3, 2017 at 12:28 pm

"According to a Human Resources Department report that the city released Thursday evening, the increases were based on an evaluation of each of the four officials -- a process that typically begins in May and lasts several months." Apparently the City Council is deaf to the continual criticism of these individuals. Perhaps the annual evaluation should include some tax-paying residents, chosen through a lottery.


21 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Nauseating.


20 people like this
Posted by Tom from Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2017 at 1:20 pm

Tom from Midtown is a registered user.

Note to Gennady: it would have been helpful to include when the last pay raises went to these individuals, as well as roughly how often they've gotten raises over, say, the last decade. You make a point of saying raises to other city employees were higher -- but they're over three years, so it's hardly an apples-to-apples comparison. If the CM and the others got 5% raises each year for three years, they'd be up 15+%!


8 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 3, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Annette is a registered user.

There's comp and there's performance. W/regard to the latter, in all the comments I have ever read in this forum I don't recall any criticism of our City Clerk, Ms. Minor. And very little said about the auditor.


5 people like this
Posted by Reasonable
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2017 at 2:08 pm

The article regrettably fails to include information needed to place the raises in context: comps to nearby communities, how long it’s been since their last raise and, most crucially, how long until their next increase will be considered.

If, for example, the raises are intended to last for three years (the duration of the union contract), it works out to 2.5% a year, roughly the rate of inflation. This would be a much fairer point of comparison.

Sadly, the lack of information has deterred none of the site’s predictable stable of know-nothing commenters.


27 people like this
Posted by Good Grief
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 3, 2017 at 2:32 pm

We hired a new City Manager not long ago at a very high salary. The first thing that happened was that he or someone decided he could not do all the work, so not one, but two assistants had to be hired, also at hefty salaries. (How did the previous guy manage?) Now he gets a 5% "merit" increase. There are not enough words for this one: ridiculous, disgusting, sickening, ... Sadly, it is also not surprising. Do they say anywhere exactly what he and the others did that was so great?


25 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 3, 2017 at 2:44 pm

Isn't James Keene due to retire soon? My understanding is that pensions are 90% of the final year of employment. Please feel free to correct me if this information is incorrect. There appears to be a long tradition of council approving salary increases for senior employees to coincide with their final year of employment.

We know pensions are going to be an untenable burden on residents in the future. It strikes me as irresponsible of the council to dig this hole ever deeper. Especially when these employees are more than adequately compensated. But then again, it feels good to be generous, especially when there is no personal cost.


10 people like this
Posted by Travesty
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 3, 2017 at 4:54 pm

These same overpaid administrative hacks are probably behind the latest money-grubbing scheme against California tax-payers: DOG REGISTRATION. I just got notified that my 8-pound chihuahua who NEVER goes outside off leash needs a yearly license for $80.00. They named him by name and gave his birth date, which means my veterinarian shared what I consider to be private medical information. None of the city's damned business whether I own a dog or not! This is big brother at its worst. And the Animal Services "Licensing" page is the most egregiously insincere piece of garbage I've read in a long time. "Want to keep your pet safe and healthy? We can help!" Cross our palms with silver, is what they meant to say. Meanwhile they and all the other rescues are pushing animals onto everyone, rich and poor alike. They like to induce poor families to adopt dogs but the cost of vet care -- and now this -- is nothing but a slap in the face of a well-meaning family of limited means. I've been considering leaving CA for a while. This might just be the catalyst. Go --- yourselves, Palo Alto and your overpaid administrators!


25 people like this
Posted by Lenore
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 3, 2017 at 5:35 pm

A PAY RAISE -, quite honestly - for what? The CM has hired 2 highly paid asistants with the approval of the Council, for what. ....... he said he is retiring soon. Go - but please do not ask us to pay for his retirment increase. . The council not only courts developers to the disgust of many...... now they want to give the CM an increase from an already inflated salary.... which we will be paying for the rest of his life as retirement benefits.

I keep asking why a definite clique on the council will do what they can to bring Palo Alto down, while double talking about how fantastic and hardworking they are. The extent of problems related toraffic, services, development, crowding, are more a result of their poor governing and support of a CM working in tandem to take care of each other. A difficult sentence to write, and sad to do so as well. After 50 years of living here, it is hard to see the direction in which this city is being led.

We will pay this increase from our taxes for years and hear the cry for more money to fix PA infrastructure. We have a right to know exatly why these people merit a raise and a vote on such a raise. The CM answers to the council and the council answers to us. I encourage people write letters to express their thoughts on this issue. Thank you


14 people like this
Posted by Voter
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Ridiculous. We need a citizens initiative moving all future pension accruals to 401ks, and freezing all pay raises (or capping them at cpi) until the unfunded liability on the existing, ridiculous pensions is paid off.

The unions would sue and hide behind the "California rule," but this is about to go down in flames in court anyways.


12 people like this
Posted by Mark
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 3, 2017 at 7:52 pm

Nothing will ever be done about the pensions because the above four are all in the pension system. Getting raises adds to their yearly lifetime pension payout too. Why would they do anything to change this? It's a losing fight from the very beginning.


23 people like this
Posted by what the heck
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2017 at 7:55 pm

Remember, the city manager is in housing paid for by the city, so the salary component is understated.

The city council needs to explain the rationale for "merit" increases.


22 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2017 at 8:47 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

It is probably time to replace the city manager position with an elected full time Mayor. The city has grown into a place where the city manager and constituent bureaucracy are effectively the shadow government that runs the city with periodic oversight by the city council. A real Mayor would have much more accountability, so we would see city policies that better align with the electorate instead of developers, or Keene's urban planning buddies.


20 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 3, 2017 at 9:35 pm

I strongly suspect the spay-neuter clinic--a service for citizens--was closed to help pay for this.

Our city government seems to be devolving from its proper mission of providing essential common services for residents to an ever-growing clique of adult children playing government among themselves at taxpayer expense.


2 people like this
Posted by Cur Mudgeon
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 3, 2017 at 10:08 pm

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by frankie
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 4, 2017 at 7:24 am

A powerful auditor's office would be worth that and then some. Sadly, I see no evidence we have that.


9 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 4, 2017 at 1:37 pm

Sorry, what ever it is that Keene does, or thinks he does, is NOT worth a pay check exceeding $300k plus exceptional benefits that follow him to the grave, another unfunded liability PA tax payers get to shoulder, and for what? Keene can't do the job he was hired to do, apparently not even Keene plus two over paid helpers can't do the job. WTF city council, you guys hired someone who can't do his job, and your response is to reward this? Are all so-called city 'leaders' only 'competent' when over paid?


7 people like this
Posted by no change
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2017 at 10:43 pm

Keene announced his upcoming retirement "plans" just prior to the recent Council election. Like most observers he probably expected a different outcome than what we got and figured it was time
to get out.Things might actually change in Palo
Alto. But surprising vote counts in some Downtown precincts favoring two candidates flipped
the outcome, turned it upside down. There should
have been a recount, especially in light of a
State audit of the Santa Clara County Registrar
of Voters but a recount never happened and here we are. No change.


11 people like this
Posted by Spiked
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 4, 2017 at 11:51 pm

It is called pension spiking.

Web Link

At $300,000 a year he should fund his own pension.


11 people like this
Posted by Spiked
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 4, 2017 at 11:54 pm

@ John Alderman

Furthermore, it would be a disaster if we put the real estate lawyer; Gregg Scharff as full time Mayor.


5 people like this
Posted by steve
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 5, 2017 at 5:24 pm

The city just cut 11 firefighter positions to pay for the raises!! Go figure--


5 people like this
Posted by Unbelievable
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 7, 2017 at 11:26 pm

Over 30 letters against this and not a single letter for the raise
Why was councilmember Tanaka the only one who listened???


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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