Pay raise rates an explanation

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: December 3 2013 | 12:01 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 12:23 am in
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By The Gazette Editorial Board

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Cedar Rapids City Manager Jeff Pomeranz is Iowa’s highest-paid city manager. And that came as a surprise to more than a few local taxpayers.

The City Council raised Pomeranz’s base pay 4.8 percent last month, to $256,232. Add in a chunk of deferred compensation for retirement, and his package tops $340,000. That far-outdistances his urban Iowa peers.

We think Pomeranz has done an outstanding job at a critical time. He’s played a leading role in a number of big flood recovery decisions and has skillfully managed numerous projects. Pomeranz’s efforts to gain state funding for flood protection and his economic development push are major successes.

The city has done well under Pomeranz’s leadership, backing up the assertion that this city manager is worth every penny. That’s what the mayor and City Council have been insisting. Others beg to differ. It’s a debate that can’t really be settled definitively.

But taxpayers do deserve a much better explanation.

Pomeranz’s salary has been raised three times since he took over in September 2010. In each case, the City Council has approved those raises as part of its “consent agenda,” a long list of routine agenda items approved all at once with no comment.

It’s that sort of “nothing to see here” governing that made Pomeranz’s paycheck such a surprise to many, even though his pay structure was approved three years ago.

We believe the decision to hand a pay raise to the city’s top manager rates more than a routine vote. The council should explain, in detail, why such an increase is warranted. It should explain the performance goals and objectives that have been met or exceeded.

Taxpayers covering Pomeranz’s paycheck should get more information on the return they’re getting for this investment. We understand that personnel matters are private, but surely a clearer picture of the manager’s performance can be painted publicly. No more surprises.

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