Council approves Hecksel’s raise
Glenwood Springs City Council delivered a raise and an apology to its city manager Thursday.Council voted unanimously to approve an 11.5 percent raise in the pay of Jeff Hecksel, meaning he will earn $121,000 over the next year.Council member Dave Merritt, who headed council’s negotiations with Hecksel over his contract, apologized for public criticism Hecksel has received in recent weeks because council had considered providing some form of housing assistance to him.Merritt said the idea was council’s, not Hecksel’s.”He was not in the loop at all and has not requested anything,” Merritt said.Council had discussed the idea because Hecksel has had difficulty finding a home to buy in the Glenwood area since starting his job nearly two years ago. However, some city residents questioned whether the city’s top-paid employee needed housing help.In the end, council chose against providing any such assistance. Merritt said some other Colorado communities provide a variety of nonsalaried benefits to city managers. But he called Glenwood an “egalitarian” community and said Hecksel will continue to receive all the same benefits as other city employees, except for a $350-a-month car allowance that he has received since becoming city manager.Merritt also defended the size of Hecksel’s pay raise, noting that it essentially represents two salary adjustments because council neglected to conduct an annual review and adjust Hecksel’s compensation then.”He has done a very good job for the city over those last two years,” Merritt said.He cited Hecksel’s leadership in reducing operating deficits in several city funds, putting together aHecksel: see page A2transportation tax plan that voters approved last year, and implementing an employee compensation package that resulted in significant pay hikes for many employees.Council members said Hecksel’s salary is comparable to what other communities pay. Merritt said it’s reasonable given that he serves at the will of council and could be fired at any time without due process, despite the four-year contract approved Thursday.Said council member Chris McGovern, “I think we’re very fortunate to have competent help. The (salary) numbers that we’re talking about are not small but … the job he does is large.”Mayor Bruce Christensen had cut off public comment on Hecksel’s contract in a recent council meeting because he said the comments contained misinformation and public comment would be accepted Thursday night after the contract proposal had been made public. Only one city resident, Michael Blair, spoke up on Hecksel’s contract Thursday, and he endorsed the job Hecksel has been doing.Hecksel declined to comment on the issue when his proposed contract was made public this week. His only comment in Thursday’s meeting was to thank council for approving it.Under the contract, his salary will increase again, to $125,840, on Sept. 1 of next year. Future salary hikes over the remainder of his contract will be determined following annual reviews by council.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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