In this week's Around Town column, find out which top-level Palo Alto officials received raises and a new city electric vehicle soon coming down a street near you.
PAY DAY ... With little debate or fanfare, the City Council approved on Monday night raises for the only four officials whom it directly appoints. City Manager James Keene and City Attorney Molly Stump each received a 5 percent raise, bringing their respective salaries to $313,477 and $284,253. City Clerk Beth Minor and City Auditor Harriet Richardson each earned a 4 percent bump and now have salaries of $146,804 and $187,533, respectively. While the council's approval was never in doubt, not everyone was thrilled about signing off on the raises. Councilman Greg Tanaka said he has heard an "incredible outcry in the community" about the raises, with a packet of letters arguing against the proposed raises and not a single letter supporting them. "The community I think has spoken," Tanaka said. "This is something that there is a lot of concern about in the city." Tanaka was the sole dissenter in the 8-1 vote to grant the raises, which he called "excessive." Mayor Greg Scharff lauded the performance of all four council-appointed officers and argued that the raises were well-justified. Altogether, the raises will add about $55,000 to the city's budget. Vice Mayor Liz Kniss said the council spends a long time reviewing the performance of its employees and puts a lot of thought into compensation adjustments. The new salaries, she said, are on par with what other cities pay. "Although it sounds like a lot when it gets in the paper, we're kind of in the middle of the pack," Kniss said. Scharff said he is proud to support the salary increases. "I think they earned their raises, I think they totally deserve them, and I'm proud that we're giving these raises," he said. "I think it's important that we as a city treat our employees the way you'd want to be treated as an employee.
IT'S ELECTRIC ... Palo Alto will become the first Bay Area city to use an electric refuse truck, making its public debut at 4:30 p.m. Monday at King Plaza. City contractor GreenWaste of Palo Alto will operate the vehicle that saves 6,000 gallons of diesel per year; 72 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents; and cuts nitrogen oxides by 0.0.237 tons per year, among other environmentally-friendly savings. It's a standout in the waste-management industry as the first full-size truck with a fully automated side loader in North America. The truck can travel 65 to 75 mph on a full charge, which takes two-and-a-half hours. Keep an eye out for the white truck with electric bolts on its side during the one-year pilot, when it will run down garbage, recycling and compost collection routes throughout town.