Tallahassee Reports has received a copy of the pay study that City Manager Fernandez used as support for the the recently reported executive level pay raises.View City’s “market rate study” here.
Surprisingly, the numbers reported in the study do not support the majority of the pay raises.
This report addresses only the Assistant City Manager (ACM) position. Future reports will address other positions.
Last week TR broke the story on the executive level pay raises doled out by City Manager Rick Fernandez, which in some cases exceeded $40,000 per employee.
The Tallahassee Democrat reported that, “The salaries started off as recommendations from the city’s Human Resources and Workforce Development department, which conducted a market rate study ordered by Fernandez. City staff studied government and utility salaries in cities like West Palm Beach, Gainesville and Lakeland, among others. They also studied salaries at public utilities.”
Commissioner Gil Ziffer told the Democrat that “When Mr. Fernandez first presented the increases a few months ago, he was very clear the salaries in question were comparable to counterparts in similar-sized city governments around the state. I trust his judgment.”
What does the City’s “market rate study” reveal”?
Assistant City Managers
It is important to note that the City’s “market rate study” does not take into account the impact of experience on the reported salaries. For example, the salaries of the two ACM’s in Gainesville are between $135,000 and $145,000. However, TR learned that both ACM’s have been in the position for eight years. All of the City of Tallahassee ACM’s are new to the position.
Also, the “market rate study” does not take into account the impact of positions being publicly advertised. For example, Lakeland currently has an open ACM position that was advertised and reports indicate that approximately 100 applications were received for consideration. Lakeland pays their ACM’s like Gainesville, between $135,ooo and $145,000. None of the City of Tallahassee ACM positions were advertised.
Now the numbers.
City Manager Rick Fernandez promoted and gave raises to three ACM’s. Each of the ACM’s is now making $175,000. This means that the City of Tallahassee is paying $525,000 for three ACM’s with an average salary of $175,000.
The first two columns in the table below is based on information from the City’s “market rate study”. The last two columns, “ACM Positions” and “Total ACM Salary” were added by TR after reviewing organization charts and talking to officials in the comparable cities.
The average salaries of the comparable group of cities in the pay study is $152,783. The average of the Tallahassee ACM’s is $175,000, or 14.5% higher than the average of the comparable group.
Note that the addition of West Palm Beach has a substantial impact on the comparable group average, given the high salary? Also, why was Lakeland not included? Unlike West Palm Beach, Lakeland runs an electric utility and has the same political structure as the City of Tallahassee.
Even with West Palm Beach in the comparable group, the “market rate study” indicates the recent raises for the ACM positions are not comparable with average salaries of ACM’s in the comparable group.
What about the claim that the ACM’s have accepted more responsibilities and therefore deserve the higher salaries?
Research by TR found that none of the comparable cities have more than two ACM’s. The City of Tallahassee has three. These numbers are reflected in the “ACM Positions” column.
The third column provides the total annual salary paid to ACM’s. The comparable group averages total pay for ACM’s equal to $276,781. The City of Tallahassee pays $525,000. That is 89.9% higher than the comparable group.
These findings raise questions about City Manager Rick Fernendez’s claim that all of the officials have taken on “higher-level” responsibilities as a result of the reorganization. Are other cities in the comparable group doing more with less managers? Why does Tallahassee need three ACM’s”?
Our next report will look at the other positions and how they compare to salaries in comparable cities.