Janesville18.4°

Council sets ballpark salary for new manager

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MARCIA A. NELESEN
April 9, 2008
— The advertisement seeking Janesville’s new city manager will read something like this:
“$140,000, plus or minus, depending on qualifications; excellent benefits package.”

While some council members suggested a lower salary, others said Tuesday the city has been getting a deal with City Manager Steve Sheiffer, who will retire this fall.


Sheiffer has worked here 20 years. His compensation is about $147,000, including deferred compensation and an annuity.


Councilman Paul Williams was uncertain about a starting salary of $140,000 and said the salary should depend more on qualifications.


“You gotta look at how long Steve’s been here,” he said.


Councilman Bill Truman suggested that the city might be able to get someone with less experience for $132,000, for instance.


New Councilman Tom McDonald figured candidates will immediately look at the $140,000 figure and not take anything less.


“Is the $140(,000) still a little high?” he asked.


“I don’t think it is,” said Heidi Voorhees, the recruiter hired by the city.


Voorhees said she understands how the length of the current employee’s tenure could skew perceptions about the new salary. But while council members can’t replace Sheiffer’s institutional knowledge, they will have the same expectations as with the current manager, she said. The new manager will have to come “pretty close” to doing the same job.


The city has 500 employees and a budget of $62 million, Voorhees noted.


The city administrator in Waukesha, for instance, gets $115,000, and that’s in addition to a full-time mayor who is paid $77,000.


And the city manager should be paid at least 20 percent more than the next highest-paid employee, she said. That employee is Jack Messer, director of public works, whose compensation is $119,000.


Voorhees said Janesville could advertise its excellent benefits. In Illinois, for instance, employees pay 4.5 percent of their wages into the pension system.


Russ Steeber agreed with Voorhees, saying the city has been fortunate to have someone stay for 20 years. Sheiffer’s salary always has lagged behind the Midwest average, Steeber said.


Some council members during reviews and in looking at comparables have warned that the city would never get somebody with Sheiffer’s experience for the same salary, Steeber said.


Even so, Councilman George Brunner wanted to make sure the city can negotiate, which the “plus or minus” in the advertisement will afford.


He wants to look at comparable cities in Wisconsin, noting that the council in the past has relied heavily on regional comparables.


He noted Janesville’s lower cost of living and good benefits.


“You want to be fair salary wise, but also fair as to what the fringe benefits are,” he said.


“You want to make sure you’re comparing apples to oranges.”


Steeber agreed but added that the council will pull its candidates mostly from the region.


Council members will meet again Tuesday to give final approval of the recruitment ad.


WANTED: CITY MANAGER

This is the draft of the advertisement that will offer the job of Janesville’s city manager:


Janesville, Wisconsin (population 61,310). Growing, historic, full-service community located in south central Wisconsin along the Rock River, seeks experienced municipal executive to lead its organization consisting of 500 full-time employees and $40 million general fund budget. The city is seeking candidates with a record of significant accomplishment in a full-service, growing community. Successful candidates will be experienced in economic development, long- and short-range fiscal policy and comfortable working collaboratively with elected officials, staff, active/involved citizens and other units of government. Bachelor’s degree in public administration, urban management, public policy, business administration or related field required plus seven to 10 years increasingly responsible public management experience as chief executive in similar community or assistant/department head in larger community or combination of relevant experience and training. Master’s degree in public administration is highly desired. Strong general management, financial management and administrative leadership background, outstanding organizational skills, plus proven interpersonal communication skills and well-developed writing skills required. Appointed by the city council. Residency required.


The council will meet Tuesday, when it can make any changes to the advertisement.



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