By Jack Mayne Lots of citizen complaints filled social media on Friday (April 5), following the Des Moines City Council increasing City Manager Michale Matthias’ annual salary to $199,000 a year, plus the ability to cash in extra sick leave and vacation. Just before 5 p.m. on Friday, Mayor Matt Pina posted a three page news release (PDF file) supporting the pay increase and other changes in remuneration. Resident (and 2019 council candidate) Anthony Martinelli was one of several who wrote on the Des Moines Community Group on Facebook that:

“The (Des Moines city) council voted unanimously (7 to 0) last night (Thursday, April 4) to raise the city manager’s salary from $182,000 to $199,000 (over triple the average household income). With this vote the city manager has seen a $45,000 a year raise in a little over 2.5 years.”
That increase in salary of 8 percent, said Martinelli, was in addition to allowing “for an increase of 180 hours available to be cashed out annually from the City Manager’s existing sick leave bank and vacation bank.” He said Matthias has 300 hours of sick leave and vacation leave. For and against Others questioned the increase, but at least one person defended the pay and allowances for Matthias as part of doing business in the current economy. Amber Kahmylie wrote:
“Anyone who pays attention to this (Facebook) group knows things have been very active this morning and many people have questions about the councils recent choices. But instead of addressing their constituents head-on and answering our questions they are dormant and quiet the only person who seems to be trying to bring Clarity to this very unsettling situation is Bonnie Gidlund Wilkins, who is doing amazing trying to help us and thank you addressing this especially when those who made this choices choose to stay silent?”
Doreen Harper said this about the raise:
“Since last night’s CC meeting was not in council chambers, unfortunately there wasn’t a way to watch it on Channel 21. Perhaps the next time this situation occurs, broadcasting via Facebook Live will result in more transparency and inclusivity with the community.”
Supporting the increase for Matthias was Debby Strayer, who wrote:
“Sure is a lot of complaining with people who have little understanding of our political structure. In order to keep and retain quality management you need to pay competitive wages. You do a comparison of similar organizations or communities. I am on several boards and that is what we do when we at looking at pay rates for our management. Just looking at the pay compared with what we think is fair isn’t looking at what it is in a competitive job market.”
City defends increase “These findings were published prior to Council’s action to increase the City Manager salary,” said the city news release. “The contract amendment with supporting information, was published as an agenda item, posted on the city’s webpage and added to the city’s local notice boards. The city said it has information “to give you an idea of what Michael and his team have accomplished over the last year.”:
  • Managed a sustainable, solvent budget with appropriate contingency.
  • Raised our legal contingency requirement to the national standard per City Council action.
The Des Moines’ release also noted that the city has “received a significant bond rating upgrade as a result of establishing and managing sustainable finances. Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s both reviewed our financial practices and awarded the City these upgrades. “We also received the Government Finance Officers Association award for our Comprehensive Annual Financial Reporting. The city news release said that Des Moines “realized savings of over $500,000 as a result of the upgrades and refinancing of outstanding 2008 bonds and new bonds for the North Marina Bulkhead. Here’s more from the city’s release:
Human Services increase The Des Moines City Council “was able to increase our human services allocations to community organizations providing additional resources for our residents in need. A Utility Tax Audit was initiated to ensure the City is receiving the appropriate revenues generated by the Des Moines Creek Business Park.” The Waterland City The city said the “administration leadership transition and succession planning has established excellent Executive Team.” “Hired and promoted a number of critical staff and developed an appropriate salary structure to attract and retain these talented professionals. “Established a Building Official in Training Program to hire ahead based on succession planning for the building department. “Partnered with Wesley for management of the Senior Services Center. Authorized Professional Development for a number of managers, supervisors, planners and police to work positively on communication strategies. “Implemented a program to address succession planning since approximately 30 percent of the staff are qualified to retire.”Created a new Public Records Analyst position to comply with City legal requirements and response to public requests. Staff Engagement Des Moines, said the city news release, “concluded labor agreements with Teamsters, non-represented and exempt employees.” Staff convenes “regular meetings of executive team and senior staff for cross department collaborations and efficiencies. Developed a team approach improving employee morale and engagement which resulted in an increase in overall staff productivity.” “Implemented best practice procedures for cash handling, employee time reporting, and use of staff time.” At the Senior Activity Center, “in partnership with Wesley, made capital improvements based on input from the Senior Services Advisory Committee. Made structural and safety improvements at the Field House. Council meetings Expanded use of Administration Report for providing information, education and more in-depth awareness of City functions and actions to City Council. Implemented enhanced presentations to better communicate the depth of City issues with visual support.” The Waterland City “Public Safety and Emergency Management “Fully funded and staffed our Accredited Police Department with an Officer in Training “Program to eliminate gaps in service and address attrition and transition. “Developed a Redondo vertically integrated substation for multiple levels of law enforcement (FBI, DEA, US Marshals and other Jurisdictions) to enhance cooperation and coordination in addressing violent crimes and gang activity. Authorized additional resources for that purpose. This substation serves as a national model to include agencies from Federal down to Local Government. “Increased participation in the Regional Violent Crimes Task Force. Established a Des Moines Street Crimes Unit. “Worked with the Police Chief to secure access to the MaST building for an additional substation and Redondo presence. “Established mandatory “active shooter training” for all city employees. Established Emergency Management Director Position to emphasize local and regional emergency preparedness. “Partnered with Des Moines Police Foundation and other jurisdictions to acquire a K9 Unit for our Police Department. Community Engagement “Increased communication and social media expansion of information from City and Police. “(City Manager) Tours with residents, developers and other public agencies, including Highline College leadership, Board of Trustee members and others with interest in the City. “Frequently attends, with Council and staff, Community Events. Aviation “(City Manager) Provides leadership on this topic, within Des Moines and the surrounding community, by advocating for our residents who are experiencing impacts from Sea-Tac Airport. “Active leadership representation on StART (Sea-Tac Airport Stakeholders Roundtable), Des Moines Aviation Advisory Committee, UW Ultra-fine Particle Technical Advisory Committee, Budget Proviso Baseline Airport Impact Advisory Committee, with notable involvement and progress addressing the Sustainable Airport Master Plan (SAMP). “Recruited national consultants, hired through an inter-local agreement and with cooperation from neighboring cities to address SAMP scoping and comments representing the City from our SEPA officials.”