In taking over the community services department in addition to her duties as community engagement manager, Cherise Brandell will see an increase in salary from $106,000 to $146,000 per year, or 38 percent.
The city has also created a new position, deputy city manager, to be occupied by Public Works Director Kent Steffens. Mr. Steffens, who served as interim city manager for much of 2007 following the resignation of David Boesch, will see a 10 percent pay increase, from $161,000 to $177,000.
In part, the restructuring is an effort to compensate for the departure of former Community Services Director Barbara Santos-George in July, without making a new hire. Ms. Brandell will receive the full salary for the community services director position, and the city essentially won't be paying for the position of community engagement manager, according to City Manager Glen Rojas.
With the city unlikely to come up with a balanced budget this year — and with negotiations ongoing with line-level workers, who have already volunteered to accept a two-year pay freeze — the raises may not sit well with some residents and employees.
Mr. Rojas defended the raises, saying that they are the result of job promotions. "This shouldn't be looked upon as, 'they're getting raises, and we're not,'" he said, asked whether he thought middle managers and line-level staff members would be unhappy with the raises.
"This is part of a sustainable long-term budget, a long-term plan," Mayor Rich Cline said. "If you pull (the raises out of context), these decisions can look crazy. But if you look at it as a totality, this is actually an expense reduction."
Calls to Rene Morales, city workers' representative to the Services Employees International union, and to Sharon McAleavey, who recently negotiated a contract with a virtual salary freeze on behalf of the city's middle managers, were not returned by The Almanac's press deadline.
Mr. Rojas said he feels confident in Ms. Brandell's ability to handle the community services department because she supervised a "large staff" in the neighborhood services department in Battle Creek, Michigan, before arriving in Menlo Park in 2008. She made $75,000 per year in Battle Creek.
The housing department, which formerly reported to the director of community development, will now report to Ms. Brandell.
In his new role, Mr. Steffens will continue to oversee the public works department, but will spend more time working on issues related to high-speed rail and major land development projects, according to Mr. Rojas.
Assistant City Manager Starla Jerome-Robinson will directly supervise the community services, library, and personnel departments, freeing up Mr. Rojas to spend more time working to achieve "council goals," he said.
While several other city staffers in the community services and public works departments are taking on positions of increased responsibility, those employees are not receiving raises, according to Personnel Director Glen Kramer.
The city documented the reorganization effort in a December staff report, but did not report Ms. Brandell's raise. The Almanac learned of Mr. Steffens' promotion when it received a copy of a Jan. 4 memo sent to the city's department heads.
Mr. Rojas said he had intended to notify the press eventually.