Largo city manager makes a case for higher pay
Steve Stanton says his salary "is not competitive" and should be increased based on performance and the market.
By LORRI HELFAND
Published August 6, 2006
LARGO - City Manager Steve Stanton is asking city commissioners to re-evaluate his salary and make it competitive with those for managers of similar-sized cities.
As he completes his 16th year with the city, Stanton said it's time that the City Commission reviews his salary of $128,960, based on his performance and the local labor market, Stanton wrote in a letter to the mayor and city commissioners Friday.
"I believe my longevity and commitment to this community has added a level of stability in local government not seen in most other cities in the county," Stanton wrote.
The letter came days after commissioners submitted their annual evaluations of him and about a month before the commission is scheduled to discuss his performance and salary.
Stanton, 47, who was hired as city manager in 1993, said the salary for his position "is not competitive" and that he has usually been paid toward the lower end of the salary range for city managers in the state.
"I'm not saying I want them to pay me more money," he said. "The position of city manager should be evaluated in the same way we evaluate every other manager. Most managers make what I do for communities that are a fraction of the size of Largo."
Stanton began working for the city as an assistant city manager and served as the interim city manager for several months before his promotion.
Stanton also outlined his experience and training in leadership and emergency management.
Last summer, he received a fellowship to attend Harvard University's state and local government senior executive program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. And he has received emergency and disaster training from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Emergency Management Institute.
Stanton said he decided to bring up the topic because he has been interviewing candidates to head the public works and environmental services departments, and several applicants expected to make almost as much as he does.
Commissioners will use their annual evaluations to help determine whether he gets a raise.
In their evaluations, three commissioners think Stanton is doing a good job, three think he's doing a great job and one thinks he is doing okay.
Commissioner Mary Gray Black was the most critical, saying Stanton needed improvement in administrative management and integrity and fairness.
Commissioners and members of the public "need and deserve straightforward truthful responses," she wrote.
"When the city manager hems and haws, I feel like he's not telling me what he really feels," Black explained later.
He tells commissioners what's on his mind when he meets with them, Stanton said, but rarely airs his feelings at the dais because he doesn't think it's the proper place to do so.
Stanton said he is not sure what Black's expectations are because she is the only commissioner who hasn't met or called him to discuss his performance.
But while Black was critical of Stanton, she did say that he has improved. Last year, she was the only commissioner who gave him an unsatisfactory rating in the category of integrity and fairness.
Mayor Pat Gerard and Commissioners Andy Guyette and Gay Gentry gave Stanton an overall excellent rating.
"I don't know of very many people who have more pride in Largo than he does," Guyette wrote. "Another strength of Steve's is his foresight and planning. He has a vision for where Largo can go and the majority of the citizens agree, and we can't wait to get there."
Last year, Stanton received a 4 percent pay increase, the same amount that other top Largo administrators received.
[Last modified August 5, 2006, 21:19:21]
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