Top city staffers’ wages less than other cities

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published April 18, 2012

The top spot in Troy may be a tough sell, salary-wise, based on a report from the city’s Human Resources Department that states top management salaries in the city are 7 percent below average.

According to the city’s website, Troy City Manager John Szerlag’s total compensation and benefits are $159,917 a year, not including a pension he earned from his earlier tenure with the city.

His new salary as city manager in Cape Coral, Fla., is reportedly $160,000, with a moving allowance, an 18-month housing allowance, a monthly car allowance and $6,000 yearly for medical expenses.

Troy Human Resources Director Peggy Sears presented a report to the City Council at its April 2 meeting that compared how pay and benefits for Troy city employees stack up to other communities.

Sears said Troy salaries and benefits compared very well with other communities and were in many cases lower.

Salaries of Troy’s upper-management staff are 7 percent lower than in comparable communities, Sears said.

Salaries were compared with cities that have populations between 60,000 and 125,000 people.

Salaries in 30 job classifications were found to be comparable.

Sears noted that the International City Management Association organizational restructuring study — presented to the council in February 2011 and showing that Troy city employees were not overpaid when compared with similar cities — was completed before nonunion employees had agreed to more than 10 percent wage concessions that included furlough days, a 1.9 percent reduction in wages, increased contributions to health insurance and reductions in health care benefits.

Sears said all six unions agreed to 10 percent pay cuts, including groups with contracts that had not expired. Nonexempt city employees have had not had pay raises since 2008, Sears noted.

“By comparison, some cities have held their salaries static, but many have increased wages from 1 to 3 percent,” Sears said.

She told the council that the issue has already come to light in attempts to recruit staff for specialized positions and in trying to retaining employees.

“We have had little or no success in attracting candidates for positions requiring significant skill or education, and we have lost valuable, experienced employees to positions paying more than Troy,” she said. “The more cuts we make, we will no longer be competitive.”

Szerlag said the report, along with reports on efficiencies in the Information Technology and Police departments, were the result of discussions with department heads over the past few weeks and were presented to council members as they begin to deliberate on the budget in coming weeks.