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

Original post made on Mar 14, 2018

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 staff's goal in recommending the major boosts in the city's management salary schedule that were approved on a 2-1 vote by the Menlo Park City Council on Tuesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 9:55 AM

Comments (27)

Posted by whatever
a resident of 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.

Posted by whatever?
a resident of 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.

Posted by John The Baptist
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2018 at 12:56 pm

John The Baptist is a registered user.

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.

Posted by Jack
a resident of 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?

Posted by Jill
a resident of 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.

Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Mar 15, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

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.

Posted by options
a resident of 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.

Posted by GBA
a resident of 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.

Posted by Exit Interview
a resident of 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.

Posted by good indicator
a resident of 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.

Posted by Salary balloon
a resident of 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.

Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 19, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

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.

Posted by Management matters
a resident of 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.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of 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?

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 19, 2018 at 9:23 pm

Edit: even if 3 was quorum.

Posted by Manager
a resident of 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.

Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 21, 2018 at 2:23 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

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.

Posted by The Carousel
a resident of 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?

Posted by pdj
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 23, 2018 at 11:17 am

pdj is a registered user.

Attached is information regarding a quorum.
Web Link

Posted by no Shuffle
a resident of 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.

Posted by Time to shuffle
a resident of 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.

Posted by Travel Abroad Program
a resident of 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?

Posted by kbehroozi
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 29, 2018 at 7:43 pm

kbehroozi is a registered user.

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.

Posted by insights
a resident of 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

Posted by More insights
a resident of 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.

Posted by Survey Says?
a resident of 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.

Posted by Salary balloon
a resident of 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

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