Union criticizes city’s raise to Roseburg City Manager
An employees union criticized Roseburg City Council’s decision to give City Manager Lance Colley a nearly 4 percent raise Monday, saying its members agreed to a 2 percent raise to help the city with its finances.
Jeffery Brown, an assistant business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 659, said that the salary increase that City Council approved Monday for Colley was not a “huge raise” but it was still double what union employees received.
“If city finances are as they presented to us, it doesn’t seem like a responsible fiscal move to give him that kind of a raise,” Brown said.
Council President Tom Ryan said all of the city’s union and nonunion employees, including police and fire unions, received 2 percent raises in their contracts.
Ryan said Colley’s salary was similar to other cities. The city also tries to keep its compensation for employees in the middle of the range that other cities are paying.
The city council approved the three-year Local 659 contract on Sept. 25.
The IBEW Local No. 659 said in a press release issued Thursday that during negotiations the city told them that it was spending more than it was taking in.
According to the union, city negotiators refused to consider anything more than a 2 percent increase for union-represented employees. The city stated its goal was to develop a sustainable fiscal policy required to maintain current service levels and prevent employee layoffs.
The local members made a concession to accept a modest wage increase in order to maintain city services and support the former central library reopening, anticipating that the city management would follow suit and follow the same guidelines in managing their salaries, the union said.
On Monday, Roseburg City Council approved a nearly 4 percent raise for Colley, increasing his monthly salary from $12,046 per month to $12,532, or $150,384 annually, starting in January.
A city memo on the contract said the adjustment was necessary to maintain a 10 percent differential between the city manager and the highest paid department head.
Mayor Larry Rich said the city manager is employed at-will and can be let go. When the city hired Colley it set his salary at 10 percent above the highest department head in order to keep a differential between the city manager, who is employed at-will, and an assistant who made a salary that was close to Colley’s but was not at-will and could not be fired as easily.
“We didn’t want assistants to be at the same level as a city manager when he could be fired at will,” Rich said.
Brown said he received phone calls from city employees following the council decision Monday. He said it was hard for them to accept the 2 percent raise when the city manager has received twice as much, two years in a row.
City of Roseburg employees represented by Local No. 659 typically make from $18 to $25 an hour and may get a pension through the city, Brown said.
A previous story written by The News-Review in December 2016 found that Colley’s annual salary at the time was about $1,300 to $4,500 higher than city managers who worked in three similarly sized Oregon cities.
Colley, in an email, noted that employees may be eligible for additional salary increases based on merit, and wrote:
“The City of Roseburg Council and Administration have great respect for each and every employee who works for the City. Many of our employees are subject to collective bargaining agreements (like IBEW) and many are not. Each individual’s compensation is based on an approved pay scale. IBEW recently approved a three year collective bargaining agreement in which its employees received cost of living adjustments of 2% and may be eligible for associated pay increases based on merit. There are two other collective bargaining groups as well as many non-represented employees who are subject to our personnel policies and not represented through collective bargaining. Two employees, the Municipal Judge and the City Manager work directly for Council and must have their compensation approved annually.”