BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison City Council approved an 8 percent increase in pay for City Manager David Varley at its Tuesday regular meeting,
An agenda item had been listed for the meeting calling for approval for a 5 percent increase, but 1st Ward City Councilman Chris Greenwald referenced an email that had come out prior to the meeting and then asked to amend the motion on the agenda for an 8 percent increase. Varley was currently making $101,920 and the pay raise will take him to $110,074 per year.
“The thing that I thought about yesterday, for some reason my mind went to, to compare this to an industry and say this was a 96-employee industry, what would the plant manager be bringing in a year. Then I compared this job to that job and this job is a lot broader than that job,” Greenwald said.
Varley’s third year anniversary date was in October. He received pay increases as part of his 6-month and one-year review. All city employees get annual cost of living increases and Varley has received those, but Mayor Brad Randolph said a step was actually skipped with Varley last year when no pay increase was given on his second anniversary date.
All city employees get an annual cost of living increase and then step or merit increases.
City Councilman Kevin Rink asked Varley if he was happy with Fort Madison and whether he was looking to retire here in Fort Madison.
Varley said he would probably work for eight more years and said his family has made Fort Madison its home.
“I may look 75 but I’m not quite that old yet, but I’ve got a few good years left in me. So I hope so.”
Randolph said the pay increase was warranted because Fort Madison is behind the curve in pay to the city manager’s position and has been during Varley’s tenure and also during former City Manager Byron Smith’s tenure.
“One of the reasons we lost Byron was because of a lack of a pay increase,” Randolph said after the meeting.
“Since I’ve been on the council, this is my second city manager. We’ve been fortunate to get the caliber in Byron and David for what would be considered a lower salary. When we try to decide what the city manager is worth a lot of times you look at prevailing wage and you balance a whole lot of things. What are his strong points – what does the city need – will it be more efficient. We try to weigh all those options but still try to keep city costs down in providing that.”
Several data sheets were presented that showed 10 cities of the similar population with smaller property valuations that showed Fort Madison was last in salary for the city manager. Another sheet listed groups of cities in the 5,150 to 9,500 population and Fort Madison ranked 14th in City Manager salary.
“The data kind of speaks for itself in terms of us being at the lower end of the spectrum, and we need to be competitive,” Randolph said. “David’s done a great job with his ability to streamline city services and find efficiencies and we certainly benefit from his 35 years of experience.”
The motion to approve the 8 percent pay increase passed 7-0.
In other action, the council
- voted 7-0 to approve a structural engineering contract with Calhoun-Burns and Associates for the inspection, design ,and bid for a rehabilitation of the 14th Street bridge over French Creek not to exceed $42,000. City Public Works Director Larry Driscoll said he wanted to try a 10-year rehab on the structure to see if there is a cost benefit to that rather than replacing the whole structure at some point. He said he hoped rehabbing the bridge, a deck overhaul, and steel support rehab would give the bridge 10 more years of life.
- voted 7-0 to reappoint Carol Foss to the Old Fort Commission and Mike Pulis to the city Parks and Recreation Board.