Scottsdale Charter officer pay raises range from 7 to 20 percent this fiscal year

Scottsdale City Attorney Bruce Washburn, who oversees the legal proceedings of the West’s Most Western Town. (Independent Newspapers/Arianna Grainey

The new fiscal year has just begun for the city of Scottsdale, and the municipality’s five Charter officers have all received raises for their contributions to the municipality.

Scottsdale is governed by its own type of constitution, known as the City Charter, which defines the powers and functions of the city. In broad strokes, the Charter also establishes the authority and responsibility of the city officers: city attorney, city auditor, city clerk, city manager and city treasurer.

Scottsdale adopted its first city charter in November 1961.

Scottsdale Communications and Public Affairs Director Kelly Corsette says that rather than re-write new employment contracts for the charter officers, Scottsdale City Council has chosen each year to extend existing contracts and adjust salaries via motion atop the dais.

This was done on June 19 when Scottsdale City Council unanimously approved employment contracts with base salaries for:

  • City Manager Jim Thompson – from $218,000 to $261,606
  • City Attorney Bruce Washburn – from $213,875 to $228,858
  • City Treasurer Jeff Nichols – from $167,385 to $192,936
  • City Auditor Sharron Walker – from $156,867 to $172,561
  • City Clerk Carolyn Jagger – from $154,788 to $170,273.

The fiscal year runs July 1-June 30. The 2018-19 salaries illustrate annual raises ranging from 7 percent for Mr. Washburn, to 20 percent for Mr. Thompson.

At the time of publication four of the five charter officers did not respond to request for comment. Ms. Jagger declined to provide comment regarding the recent raise.

City council voted to convene in executive session for 3.5 hours to discuss and consider employment, assignment, appointment, promotion and compensation, among other things, before the unanimous vote on each officer’s evaluation.

Scottsdale City Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp says she believes the charter officers are paid competitively.

Suzanne Klapp (file photo)

“I believe that we are now paying our Charter officers a competitive salary that will enable greater stability and reap even better performance,” Ms. Klapp said to the Independent.

“Over the last 10 years, pay for these people hired by the Council had fallen behind pay levels for comparable positions and experience levels in other Valley cities.”

Ms. Klapp says this past April the city council discussed a citywide employee classification and compensation study that recognized the job classifications and pay ranges in competitive cities within the Valley. Based on those findings to the positions within the Scottsdale organization, the council adopted the recommended classifications and ranges in the city operating budget for 2018-19.

“One of my goals has always been to reinvest in a high-performance organization and work culture in Scottsdale that exceeds the expectations of our citizens,” Ms. Klapp said.

“In order to recognize the value that our employees bring to Scottsdale, we must pay competitive wages that recognize competence and experience across all employee classifications.”

Ms. Klapp believes Scottsdale’s pay structure is open to the public and very transparent, she says, noting there are no additional deferred compensation or extraordinary benefits that increase pay levels in many other cities and are often overlooked.

“We have an effective group of Charter officers in Scottsdale who are also now being paid near the middle of their newly-adopted pay ranges,” she said. “If we want a city that is known for Simply Better Service, then we must simply pay better than we have in the past. That rule holds try all the way from the lowest paid employee to the top paid City Manager.”

City Manager Jim Thompson (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

At the time of publication, requests for comment from city councilmembers Linda Milhaven and Kathy Littlefield were not returned.

Accomplishments included in Mr. Thompson’s evaluation includes meeting with staff through open office hours, a newly implemented “Pizza with Jim” lunches and an internal “Scottsdale Insider” training for employees.

Additionally, he lists finalizing development opportunities near the old Loloma site, facilitating discussions to address the rental bike and e-scooter business and communications with downtown merchants as other success areas.

For the city auditor, Ms. Walker’s performance review for 2017-18 says she received a “full compliance” rating from the ALGA-assigned team that reviewed her office. Additionally, she says her office’s audits identified potential financial effects of implementing recommendations equaling approximately $900,000 at this point.

Mr. Washburn’s self-evaluation says he has accomplished all three goals he set for the city attorney’s office. Mr. Washburn’s three goals included taking the necessary steps to respond to the state’s new legislation pertaining to small cell wireless communications sites, and making changes to the civil litigation section of the office to enhance the nature and breadth of services available.

Mr. Washburn describes in his evaluation that other significant events from the past fiscal year includes:

  • Successful defense of an Open Meeting Law complaint brought against the city and investigated by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office;
  • Staff attorneys trying and winning cases Gonzales v. City of Scottsdale and Stuart v. City of Scottsdale;
  • Completing gaming intergovernmental agreements with several tribes to provide future revenue to the city;
  • Assistant City Prosecutor Seth Peterson was awarded Mothers Against Drunk Drivers Prosecutor of the Year; and
  • Prosecutors had 22 jury trials and 130 trails in court.

City Treasurer Jeff Nichols’s performance review states 11 items of accomplishments, ranging from preparation on the operating and capital improvement budgets to implementing a new payroll and human resources system.

The office of the city clerk annual report states from June 1, 2017 to May 31, Ms. Jagger handled:

  • 1,033 public notices posted;
  • 1,881 documents scanned;
  • 513 council reports processed; and
  • 278 legal filings processed,

Ms. Jagger’s report states that the primary goal has been and will continue to be on the 2018 primary, general and special elections and implementing campaign finance law changes.

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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