Mayor Matt Pina[/caption] By Jack Mayne City Manager Michael Matthias’s pay raise got unanimous Des Moines City Council approval Thursday night (April 11) as Mayor Matt Pina defended the action after a minor storm on Facebook criticized the actions of a week earlier. A week earlier Matthias’ salary was approved to increase to $199,000 at a meeting that had been claimed was unannounced ahead to time, spurring a citizen outburst and recriminations. Mayor Matt Pina said the meeting was announced publicly, the same as every other official Council session. The pay raise problem Pina said Thursday night that the problem began when, on April 4, the Council unanimously approved a new contract for City Manager. The pay increase was approved “after a comprehensive review.” The previous city manager, Tony Piasecki, retired in October 2016 and then-acting City Manager Michael Matthias shortly thereafter was voted the permanent city manager. His starting pay in 2016 was $153,900, the same that Piasecki earned. At the time he also was provided 80 hours annually of both sick leave and vacation. At the time, Mayor pro-tem Victor Pennington said Matthias is being paid about $20,000 less than some other cities are expecting to pay for a city manager. Pay comparison Now some say Matthias’ $199,000 will make him the highest paid city manager around. A Washington Citizen’s Commission salary comparison showed that Burien City Manager makes $169,956, Highline School Superintendent Susan Enfield gets more with a three-year contract with an annual salary of $220,000. The Legislature pays the governor $177,107, but he gets a house and staff including drivers. Other perks for the governor include pay and security while running for president. Success or failure Pina said hiring the city manager, who is the chief executive of the city, is the responsibility of the City Council and the “city manager’s role is intertwined with the success or failure of our city.” “Evaluating Mr. Matthias’s performance is inevitably linked to evaluating the city’s performance as a whole,” said Pina, adding the evaluation by the Council of the city manager “is also a key component of the council’s oversight of the government’s responsibilities.” Scheduled public meeting The Council made its annual performance review of the city Manager on March 28, said the mayor, and then met the next week “at a scheduled meeting at the beach park dining hall, and we did vote to approve the contract based on the exemplary results of the performance evaluation.” “This meeting was open to the public and there were members of the community present,” Pina said. “Additionally, the agenda was prepared and available to the public on the prior Friday. This is the process for every Council meeting. We also recorded the meeting’s audio and it was available on the city’s website the following day. At the meeting, the Council approved the city manager’s contract by a 7 – 0 vote.” The action was not intended “to exclude any visibility into any issue,” Pina said. He said with the initial hiring of Matthias in 2016, the city could not pay the prevailing wage for a city manager – around $200,000 – because the city was on the verge of bankruptcy, but his “unique dedication and career make him an ideal fit for the city of Des Moines.” Now the city is on firm financial footing, and can afford the increase, Pina said, adding that many people took pay cuts to come to work in Des Moines “because they want to be part of what we are doing here in our government.” The mayor said the city manager could be making more elsewhere “but he has chosen us.” [caption id="attachment_67187" align="aligncenter" width="371"] Councilmember Luisa Bangs[/caption] Bangs says manager runs city Councilmember Luisa Bangs endorsed the mayor and said “until you get behind the scenes, you have absolutely no idea how difficult it can be to make sure that things run well. We are not day-to-day people, we don’t run the city. The city manager runs the city. “Looking across at other cities in King County, we are doing a dad-gum good job because some of these other cities, all have gone ‘how in the world can they possibly keep their citizens and their economic development going. We don’t have that issue here.” But the job is not easy, said Bangs, and Councilmembers “are not doing this for the money, we are doing this for the city, we are doing this because we live in this city.”]]>