News

Menlo Park: Council OKs big increases in managers' maximum salaries

Next time a bigger city comes courting for talent, Menlo Park's management staff may have more reason to pass up the offer.

At least, that was the goal of a number of changes to the city's salary schedule that a pared-down Menlo Park City Council approved Tuesday, on a 2-1 vote. The action increases the maximum salaries for a non-unionized group of about 25 managerial staff positions.

Council members voted on March 13, with Vice Mayor Ray Mueller opposed and council members Catherine Carlton and Kirsten Keith absent, to approve increases in the maximum salaries as large as 17 percent.

The matter needed only a majority of a quorum of council members present to pass, according to City Attorney Bill McClure.

Among the positions that would see the greatest proportional increase in maximum salary are:

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

● Police commander: to $215,426 from $184,579 (a 17 percent increase).

● Library services director: to $215,426 from $185,115 (a 16 percent increase).

● Police chief: to $236,969, from $205,087 (a 15 percent increase).

About a quarter of the city's management positions are now vacant, according to Lenka Diaz, the city's human resources manager.

The higher maximum salary is intended to be used for marketing purposes to hire for a number of currently vacant management positions, according to Ms. Diaz.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Several other changes were proposed and approved to create more consistency and more equal earning potential for similar management-level jobs, she added.

No single staff member would receive a raise as a result of the changes, she said. Management staff are generally considered eligible for pay raises during merit reviews in July or August each year, according to a staff report.

Mr. Mueller said he opposed the measure because, compared with all of the other cities in San Mateo County, Menlo Park isn't as far behind the median as the smaller subset of larger cities that the staff used as comparisons indicated.

Cities used in the comparisons, some of which are in Santa Clara County, include Belmont, Los Altos, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Mateo, South San Francisco and Sunnyvale.

Councilman Rich Cline, who supported the measure, commented on the challenge of striking a balance between trying to match the pay rates of a big city, which he said could be "dangerous," while having sufficient staff to accomplish the tasks the city needs done.

"We're not Sunnyvale by any means," he said. "We also have a pretty significant employer who takes up a lot of staff time and resources."

City Manager Alex McIntyre argued that the city is losing managers to larger cities – most recently, Assistant City Manager Chip Taylor took a job as public works director for Sunnyvale – and indicated he expects to retain and recruit employees more competitively with higher maximum salaries.

In January, Mr. McIntyre reported to the council that some Menlo Park staffers get unsolicited calls from other cities asking them to come work there without applying, with some offering better pay or shorter commutes.

"It remains a poaching game," he said. "All we're doing is poaching each other's candidates."

Belle Haven resident Cecilia Taylor said in a public comment that rather than increasing the salary ranges for the city's top earners, she wants the city to focus its efforts on creating a minimum wage ordinance and increasing pay for the lowest-earning jobs on the city's payroll, one of which is listed as offering only $12 an hour.

That position is the recreation coordinator, Ms. Diaz said, and at the time it was reviewed, the pay rate was not below the median compared with other cities.

Mayor Peter Ohtaki said the city should perhaps consider reviewing the pay rates for those low-earning jobs.

A full list of the approved salary range increases can be accessed here.

--

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now
Kate Bradshaw
   
Kate Bradshaw reports food news and feature stories all over the Peninsula, from south of San Francisco to north of San José. Since she began working with Embarcadero Media in 2015, she's reported on everything from Menlo Park's City Hall politics to Mountain View's education system. She has won awards from the California News Publishers Association for her coverage of local government, elections and land use reporting. Read more >>

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Menlo Park: Council OKs big increases in managers' maximum salaries

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Wed, Mar 14, 2018, 9:55 am

Next time a bigger city comes courting for talent, Menlo Park's management staff may have more reason to pass up the offer.

At least, that was the goal of a number of changes to the city's salary schedule that a pared-down Menlo Park City Council approved Tuesday, on a 2-1 vote. The action increases the maximum salaries for a non-unionized group of about 25 managerial staff positions.

Council members voted on March 13, with Vice Mayor Ray Mueller opposed and council members Catherine Carlton and Kirsten Keith absent, to approve increases in the maximum salaries as large as 17 percent.

The matter needed only a majority of a quorum of council members present to pass, according to City Attorney Bill McClure.

Among the positions that would see the greatest proportional increase in maximum salary are:

● Police commander: to $215,426 from $184,579 (a 17 percent increase).

● Library services director: to $215,426 from $185,115 (a 16 percent increase).

● Police chief: to $236,969, from $205,087 (a 15 percent increase).

About a quarter of the city's management positions are now vacant, according to Lenka Diaz, the city's human resources manager.

The higher maximum salary is intended to be used for marketing purposes to hire for a number of currently vacant management positions, according to Ms. Diaz.

Several other changes were proposed and approved to create more consistency and more equal earning potential for similar management-level jobs, she added.

No single staff member would receive a raise as a result of the changes, she said. Management staff are generally considered eligible for pay raises during merit reviews in July or August each year, according to a staff report.

Mr. Mueller said he opposed the measure because, compared with all of the other cities in San Mateo County, Menlo Park isn't as far behind the median as the smaller subset of larger cities that the staff used as comparisons indicated.

Cities used in the comparisons, some of which are in Santa Clara County, include Belmont, Los Altos, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Mateo, South San Francisco and Sunnyvale.

Councilman Rich Cline, who supported the measure, commented on the challenge of striking a balance between trying to match the pay rates of a big city, which he said could be "dangerous," while having sufficient staff to accomplish the tasks the city needs done.

"We're not Sunnyvale by any means," he said. "We also have a pretty significant employer who takes up a lot of staff time and resources."

City Manager Alex McIntyre argued that the city is losing managers to larger cities – most recently, Assistant City Manager Chip Taylor took a job as public works director for Sunnyvale – and indicated he expects to retain and recruit employees more competitively with higher maximum salaries.

In January, Mr. McIntyre reported to the council that some Menlo Park staffers get unsolicited calls from other cities asking them to come work there without applying, with some offering better pay or shorter commutes.

"It remains a poaching game," he said. "All we're doing is poaching each other's candidates."

Belle Haven resident Cecilia Taylor said in a public comment that rather than increasing the salary ranges for the city's top earners, she wants the city to focus its efforts on creating a minimum wage ordinance and increasing pay for the lowest-earning jobs on the city's payroll, one of which is listed as offering only $12 an hour.

That position is the recreation coordinator, Ms. Diaz said, and at the time it was reviewed, the pay rate was not below the median compared with other cities.

Mayor Peter Ohtaki said the city should perhaps consider reviewing the pay rates for those low-earning jobs.

A full list of the approved salary range increases can be accessed here.

--

Comments

whatever
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2018 at 10:02 am
whatever, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2018 at 10:02 am

Trumpism at work - more for those who have and ignore those who have not.


whatever?
Atherton: other
on Mar 14, 2018 at 12:37 pm
whatever?, Atherton: other
on Mar 14, 2018 at 12:37 pm

I hate Trump as much as the next living, breathing, thinking person -- he's a silver-spooned bad hombre who occasionally does good things despite original intention -- but what are you talking about, whatever...?

Seems pretty simple... It's a wealthy town. They/we want a certain caliber of employee and have the funds to get & retain 'em. Turnover is inherently expensive and there's been a poaching problem. What's this got to do with Trump?

I can maybe see a compartmentalized, cogent argument around the caliber being too lofty. Geez... at those salaries, hire 2 people for continuity instead. But as progressives, let's do something our counterparts don't do often and apply consistent logic & policy. Let's not get butthurt just because we see a salary bigger than our own (in my case at least). Hyperliberalism doesn't help.


John The Baptist
Registered user
another community
on Mar 14, 2018 at 12:56 pm
John The Baptist, another community
Registered user
on Mar 14, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Staff using the escalating salaries of other Staff to justify raises for Staff.

California cities pay an average of over 8% for Staff retirement benefits. By 2024 that averages is predicted to exceed 15%.

Since Menlo Park Staff get a raise, so should Redwood City Staff, and Palo Alto Staff, and Half Moon Bay Staff too. And when everybody's Staff gets what they deserve, Menlo Park Staff can hire a former Staffer to crunch some numbers which will inevitably prove that Menlo Park Staff is paid so poorly that they would rather be Staff somewhere else.

Meanwhile, the Assistant to the City Manager, (not to be confused with the Assistant City Manager), scores more than your average Senior Software Engineer at Google.

Think about that. An assistant to the City Manager makes more than the average Google Senior Software Engineer. Still not impressed?

The median household income in Menlo Park is just under 122 K. Most of those households are dual income households. An assistant to the City Manager, (not to be confused with the Assistant City Manager), makes more than the median two income household takes in.

Unlike the the fate of the median dual income household dweller, The Assistant to the City Manager can retire at 55 and count on being paid more than the income of the average dual income household in Menlo Park until the day they meet their maker, and then some.

Staffocracy folks. Unless you work for a public agency, you work for public employees.


Jack
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 14, 2018 at 8:09 pm
Jack, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 14, 2018 at 8:09 pm

This whole thing is an embarrassment. What's worse, the vote or skipping it?


Jill
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 15, 2018 at 12:11 am
Jill, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 15, 2018 at 12:11 am

@Jack asks what's worse? Expressing outrage without showed up for public comment is worse. Even with the detailed news coverage, nobody came to provide any public comment.


Jack Hickey
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 15, 2018 at 1:16 pm
Jack Hickey, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Mar 15, 2018 at 1:16 pm

A 2 to 1 vote on a pay raise issue: Shouldn't have happened. It should require a majority of the board, not just a majority of the 3 member quorum of the board. Ray, you should have exited and left them without a quorum. That's what I do on the Sequoia Healthcare District Board.


options
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 15, 2018 at 2:24 pm
options, Menlo Park: other
on Mar 15, 2018 at 2:24 pm

In 2010, the residents of Menlo Park voted to set a 3rd/lower retirement tier for incoming city employees. Part of this strategy was to pay employees more today for the the work they do today. When our employees from city clerk to assistant city manager, not to mention police chief, are recruited by other cities with big raises, this strategy falls apart. The city should strive to recruit the most talented, intelligent and ambitious individuals. The other end of this scale is employees that can't keep a job at any other city.


GBA
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 16, 2018 at 11:38 am
GBA, Menlo Park: other
on Mar 16, 2018 at 11:38 am

Seems like Menlo is having to pay a "Are You Willing To Be Associated With Alex McIntyre" premium.


Exit Interview
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 17, 2018 at 7:18 am
Exit Interview , Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 17, 2018 at 7:18 am

Does the Council (or anyone else from outside the employees set) check with managers who are leaving, to see whether money is really the main reason or whether it's something else? The key thing is that it be independent- no one is going to tell Menlo Park HR that they're moving on because they think McIntyre is bad at X, Y, and Z of his job.

I mean, I don't have any specific knowledge about the City Manager in this regard, but he's definitely a common thread through all these departures.


good indicator
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 19, 2018 at 2:42 am
good indicator, Menlo Park: other
on Mar 19, 2018 at 2:42 am

@Exit_Interview+ suggests these increases are hazard pay:
• Assistant City Manager: $236,969 from $211,761
• Public Works Director: $215,426 from $194,967

Chip Taylor was making $205,573 as Assistant City Manager of Menlo Park, and now makes $245,000 Public Works Director of Sunnyvale. That is $30,000 more than the max salary for that job in Menlo Park. The fact that Chip Taylor came back to Menlo Park after leaving for Millbrae is a good indicator that people like working for the city manager.


Salary balloon
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 19, 2018 at 8:20 am
Salary balloon, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 19, 2018 at 8:20 am

To put the salary ballooning at City Hall in perspective:

In 2015 when the City hired Chip Taylor, the salary schedule for Assistant City Manager was increased from
from $189,216 to $199,623.

Now the position is paid, $236,969.

That's almost $50K jump in 2 years!

Sunnyvale is four times the size of Menlo Park.








Lynne Bramlett
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 19, 2018 at 1:58 pm
Lynne Bramlett, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Mar 19, 2018 at 1:58 pm

To Jill's point, I wrote to the entire city Council on the topic of the salary increases, using the [email protected] email that goes to senior staff and city council. I was also present for some of the March 13th Council meeting and I planned to make public comment on the topic. Unfortunately, the salary topic was scheduled for later in the meeting. At roughly 9:30 p.m., Council was just starting on the Consent Calendar topics and I had trouble keeping my eyes open having recently returned to the U.S. from a long overseas trip. Council meetings could move along more efficiently and important topics could be better scheduled so as to allow the public to give input. Meanwhile, I suggest that all concerned use the [email protected] email to write Council directly on the topic. Members of the public read those emails too. I would also write the Finance & Audit Committee so they are aware of your concerns. To GBA and others who speculated on why employees are leaving, I would like the city to publish the results of the 2017 employee satisfaction survey. Why not let the public see the results because we might be in a position to help do something about the problem. HR plans to resurvey the employees, so I suspect that problem is much broader than pay.


Management matters
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 19, 2018 at 8:49 pm
Management matters, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 19, 2018 at 8:49 pm

Even with these increases you're going to see more qualified people fleeing the City of Menlo Park. The City Manager seems to have an issue retaining good employees, and it has little to do with the pay scale. I've know people who have worked in various departments and they left because they were not happy with the hostile work environment and style of communication. Staff do not feel valued and their input is disregarded by upper management. It's a good place to work for newbies who need to pad their resume but it's going to be a temporary gig for those who are qualified professionals and can easily find work where they are treated with respect.


Hmmm
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 19, 2018 at 9:20 pm
Hmmm, Menlo Park: other
on Mar 19, 2018 at 9:20 pm

I’m pretty sure a 2-1 vote isn’t a legal vote, even if 4 was quorum. I think with only 3 votes, it has to be unanimous. Will someone please check into this?


Hmmm
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 19, 2018 at 9:23 pm
Hmmm, Menlo Park: other
on Mar 19, 2018 at 9:23 pm

Edit: even if 3 was quorum.


Manager
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 20, 2018 at 10:44 pm
Manager, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 20, 2018 at 10:44 pm

Satisfaction surveys should be published and made public, and the Council should read these before granting huge pay hikes. Cities are competing in a way that brings Garrison Keillor’s Lake Woebegone to mind: “ where ....all the children are above average”. Wage Cost escalation like this is stupid.

Further, It is not necessary to pay top dollar, esp. in a small city with few big problems (like high crime). It IS necessary to have a healthy, positive work environment. Corporations learned long ago that good supportive management is more important to reduce turnover than compensation.

Too bad residents with relevent management and compensation experience are not consulted.


Lynne Bramlett
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 21, 2018 at 2:23 pm
Lynne Bramlett, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Mar 21, 2018 at 2:23 pm

Thank you, Manager, for your comment. Agree completely that "residents with relevant management and compensation experience" should have been consulted. The public needs a seat at the decision-making table in Menlo Park and the city could make much better use of the expertise of residents as volunteers. We live here and we care about our city and want to help make it well run! At minimum, the topic should have first been discussed at a meeting of the Finance & Audit Committee where public input could have been gathered before the matter hit the Council! The results of the employee satisfaction survey could have been linked to the agenda. We need to increase transparency in MP and include residents more in the decision-making process.


The Carousel
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 22, 2018 at 8:51 pm
The Carousel, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 22, 2018 at 8:51 pm

City managers seem to do "The Shuffle" after 5-ish years- moving along to another city to get some flashy initiatives started at a place they where haven't worn out their welcome. Has anyone heard anything about Alex shopping himself around?


pdj
Registered user
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:17 am
pdj , Menlo Park: Belle Haven
Registered user
on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:17 am

Attached is information regarding a quorum.
Web Link


no Shuffle
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 23, 2018 at 1:29 pm
no Shuffle, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 23, 2018 at 1:29 pm

Word has spread about the way the City of Menlo Park is managed. I’m pretty sure we’re stuck with Alex ever since the City Council declared that it would be too much work for them to find a replacement.


Time to shuffle
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 29, 2018 at 7:06 am
Time to shuffle, Menlo Park: other
on Mar 29, 2018 at 7:06 am

Hey Almanac, Mayor or residents. Why hasn’t someone looked in to what Admin services director, Nick Pegueros is doing here, in addition to the city manager? Giving more raises and additional leave for management in the last 6 months. He has caused way more damage in MP than PV. Look at the finance department, lots of departures and filled with temps. Just come down to city hall and ask around.


Travel Abroad Program
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 29, 2018 at 9:54 am
Travel Abroad Program, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 29, 2018 at 9:54 am

It's time to replace Keith. She clearly is more interested in enjoying the perks of being a City Councilmember in Washington DC and internationally than serving residents in her district.

What was so important in China this week, that Councilmember Kirsten Keith missed the Facebook study session? Is she using her City Council title on this trip?

What was so important to require her and Councilmember Carlton to miss important votes on staff raises at the prior City Council meeting?

Speaking of City Councilmember trips….

How was Councilmember Catherine Carlton serving Menlo Park residents when she spoke at events in the past year in India, Kyiv and South America, using her City Council title? Who paid for those trips? How did they help the residents of the City of Menlo Park?

How is Councilmember Carlton serving the residents of Menlo Park speaking in Bulgaria in June, at the Webit Festival, using her City Council title?

Web Link

On the Webit website, Councilmember Carlton is claiming she was Mayor (elect) in 2014 and 2015. That’s a stretch. She was appointed Mayor in December 2014 for 2015.

How many trips outside Menlo Park domestically and internationally have Councilmembers Keith and Carlton taken in the last calendar year using their City Council titles? How many times did they inform the public they were using their City Council titles outside of the City, prior to the trip? How many times did they promptly report on the trip after taking it?

Does the public know City Council status comes with a travel abroad membership program?


kbehroozi
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 29, 2018 at 7:43 pm
kbehroozi, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Mar 29, 2018 at 7:43 pm

Travel, I have a great idea: you should run! Should you make it so far, you, too, could enjoy the privilege of a second, low-paid job with late nights, an unending stream of bad choices to make based on incomplete data, and continuous public criticism from anonymous cowards. Have at it. Just let us know who you are so we can be sure to vote for you. And definitely don't plan on any family vacations.


insights
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 29, 2018 at 11:36 pm
insights, Menlo Park: other
on Mar 29, 2018 at 11:36 pm

Residents concerned about Peninsula vehicle gridlock may appreciate council members visiting Washington DC to rally funds/support for Dumbarton commuter rails service (Web Link

Council members with K-12 school-age children will be in town, but this week is Spring break for the UC system.

Council member reports are at the end of council meetings, often after midnight.

Anyone with questions about sister cities and friendship agreements should attend the sister city committee meetings (Web Link


More insights
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 30, 2018 at 7:04 am
More insights, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 30, 2018 at 7:04 am

Did Kirsten Keith pay for her trip to China? Or did the delegation she is traveling with pay for her trip to China? Residents have a right to know if she is traveling using her title abroad. Is she even traveling to a friendship city in China? Will she report out on the trip to the public?

The City of Menlo Park does not have any Friendship or Sister City agreements with Kyiv, any City in South America, any City in Bulgaria, or the organization Webit.

If the Sister City committee has become a shield to finance Councilmember travel abroad on junkets missing important Council meetings, even if their kids get to tag along, it should be disbanded.


Survey Says?
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 1, 2018 at 2:35 pm
Survey Says?, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 1, 2018 at 2:35 pm

I'm really curious about this 'employee survey' that's referenced in more than a few comments-- what's the story with that? Has The Almanac asked for a copy? Most everything a California government agency produces is a public document, so I say it's worth trying.


Salary balloon
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 2, 2018 at 2:43 pm
Salary balloon, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 2, 2018 at 2:43 pm

To put the salary ballooning at City Hall in perspective:

In 2015 when the City hired Chip Taylor, the salary schedule for Assistant City Manager was increased from
from $189,216 to $199,623.

Now the position is paid, $236,969.

That's almost $50K jump in 2 years!

Sunnyvale is four times the size of Menlo Park.

Web Link


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.