Salary cuts start at top for local leaders

Tim Foster



QUICKREAD

Mesa State College President Tim Foster

Salary for 2009–10: $248,200

Salary for 2010–11: Not yet set.

Employee pay cuts this year: None expected.

Grand Junction City Manager Laurie Kadrich

Salary for 2009: $157,913.60

Salary for 2010: $153,337.60

Employee pay cuts this year: Employees took a 3 percent pay cut while others opted for early retirement or an unpaid sabbatical. The city has also tried to reduce overtime.

• Amount saved by employee pay cuts: The city estimates it saved $800,000 with the 3 percent pay reduction.

Mesa County Administrator Jon Peacock

Salary for 2009: $125,004

Salary for 2010: $125,004

Employee pay cuts this year: Raises were not given, and the county decreased the matching amount for employee retirement benefits. Some 33 positions were eliminated but 11, all paid for by alternative means, were added, according to Peacock.

Amount saved by employee pay cuts: The retirement benefit change saved about $750,000, and position cuts saved $1.7 million.

Mesa County Valley School District 51 Superintendent Steve Schultz

Salary for 2009–10: $150,000

Salary for 2010–11: $150,000

Employee pay cuts this year: None yet, but the district has made some cuts to other items in the district for 2010–11 in preparation for an expected $8 million to $12 million cut next school year from the state. The district estimates it will save $1.6 million with 102 employees opting for early retirement this year.



When budget cuts loom, local leaders agree cuts should start at the top.

Mesa County personnel saw early signs of an economic downturn back in 2008, according to County Administrator Jon Peacock.

Consequently, his $125,004 salary hasn’t seen a boost since December 2007. Merit-based pay raises and other salary increases for other county employees went away in 2009, and salaries were frozen in mid-2009, according to county spokeswoman Jessica Peterson.

“It’s important to me that I was the first one to not take that increase,” Peacock said. “As a leader in the organization, I have to be willing to do the things I’m asking my employees to do, and I should be doing them first.”

Last week, School District 51 Superintendent Steve Schultz asked school board members not to give him the annual 3.6 percent pay raise provided for in his contract during the 2010–11 school year, a request board members granted.

Schultz was hired last year and offered a $150,000 salary his first year on the job. He would have made $155,400 his second year as superintendent if his contract had not been amended last week.

Teacher pay has not been cut for the 2010–11 school year, but Schultz said at the board meeting he wants his salary cut in line with teacher pay decreases in the next few years if decreases occur.

City of Grand Junction employees took a pay cut of 3 percent of their 2009 salary for the 2010 calendar year.

According to the city, that cut amounted to a savings of about $800,000. City Manager Laurie Kadrich’s $157,913.60 salary decreased by $4,576 this year with the 3 percent cut.

“When times are good you hope city council will treat you the same way we treat other employees. When times are bad, I expect to suffer in a way other employees do,” Kadrich said.

Mesa State College has not been immune to budget cuts from the state in recent years, but college President Tim Foster said so far the college has been able to avoid cutting employee pay. The college board of trustees will meet next month and set pay for faculty and staff (classified staff pay is set through a different process). Foster said he expects faculty and staff to receive inflation-based pay increases.

Foster cited an increase in enrollment and a well-managed budget as reasons for avoiding salary cuts.


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