The City Council considered the raise and an extension of Bill Conners' contract at its Feb. 15 meeting. Mr. Conners was hired last April, and his contract called for a review after six months.
The proposed new contract before the council last week hikes his pay from $9,800 per month to $12,800; boosts his weekly office hours in Town Hall from four to 14; extends the agreement two years "with extensions upon mutual agreement"; and "reflects more correctly the nature and extent of the services provided," according to Mr. Conners' written report to the council.
Approval of the contract was on the agenda's consent calendar, which means the council could have approved it with no discussion as part of a package of actions. But Councilwoman Kathy McKeithen asked that the item be removed from the consent calendar, and proposed that the council conduct a performance review in closed session before voting on a new contract.
"It's just good stewardship" to review performance before extending a contract, she said.
Councilman Jerry Carlson said he didn't have a problem approving the contract that night, and Councilman Jim Dobbie praised Mr. Conners' work for the town. But in a compromise, the council unanimously agreed that the proposed contract, with the pay raise retroactive to Feb. 1, should be approved pending a satisfactory review.
Mayor Bill Widmer said after the meeting that he believes council members are "generally happy that Bill (Conners) is working very hard for the town's benefit." But he agreed with Councilwoman McKeithen that a review is in order.
"Unfortunately the town didn't hold the review (after six months), but we were going through so many things, and finalizing things, and getting contracts in place for the outsourcing" of town services at the time the review was due, he noted.
Mr. Widmer said the attorney's contract needs adjustment to reflect the work he is being asked to perform. "He's been giving us a lot more face time" in the office than the contract requires, has been "addressing a number of our outstanding litigations, and has been looking at some of our internal processes" to find ways to improve them, the mayor said.
In his report to the council, Mr. Conners included a comparison of the town's previous legal costs with costs since last April. Based on budgets of the four years before his appointment, legal costs averaged about $440,000 per year, according to the report. "The projected annual cost for (legal) services this year will result in a saving of over $300,000 over the average and almost $200,000 over the best year during that span," he said.
At the Feb. 15 meeting, the council also unanimously approved Interim Police Chief Ed Flint's proposed reorganization of the police department's dispatch services, which eliminates the position of communications supervisor.
The action effectively demotes current supervisor John Mattes, whose annual compensation with benefits is now $144,406. Mr. Mattes' position is now scaled back to that of dispatcher, with an annual compensation package of $114,673.
Supervising duties will now be provided by the on-duty patrol supervisor, a police sergeant.
In addition to savings of close to $30,000 in compensation, there will be a potential savings to the town from eliminating the communication supervisor's overtime and the expense of "dispatcher backfill" resulting from the supervisor completing routine tasks, Chief Flint said in his report to the council.