Aspen manager scored $26,700 bonus in ’05 |

Aspen manager scored $26,700 bonus in ’05

Scott Condon
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

When Aspen City Manager Steve Barwick goes before City Council tonight for his annual job performance review, he will once again be in the running for what the mayor has called “a substantial bonus.”Barwick received a $26,700 bonus in January 2005, along with a pay raise of about $6,250, according to city records. That bonus – which the City Council awarded for Barwick’s performance in 2004 – was the equivalent of 23 percent of what he was paid that year.”I think that’s a substantial bonus, and I think it was well-deserved, too,” said Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud.City Attorney John Worcester was the only other city employee to receive a five-figure bonus. He was awarded $15,000, or about 12 percent of his pay.Barwick’s base salary was $123,011 in 2005. Worcester was paid $126,443, without his bonus. Those are the amounts the city reports unless specifically asked about bonuses.When the base pay and bonuses paid in 2005 are combined, Barwick pulled in $149,711; Worcester made $141,443.Other workers’ bonuses smaller

City government employees are eligible for a total of six bonuses, but they don’t come close to adding up to the size of those given to the two top executives.The city offers a “Top of Range” bonus plan that lets employees earn up to 4 percent of their salary if they are at the top of their pay grade, according to the city’s personnel manual. Employees can also pick up $1,200 if their entire department reaches its goals for the year, according to Human Resources Director Rebecca Doane.Other offerings for the rank and file at City Hall include an “Over the Top” award of between $50 and $150, and the “Outstanding Employee” bonus of up to $500. There’s also a safety bonus of $20.In a best-case scenario, employees at the top of their pay range who make $50,000 per year, for example, could earn about $3,800 in total bonuses. That would be about 8 percent of their salary.Looking at it another way, if Barwick was only eligible for the same bonuses as his staff, his maximum would be about $6,800. That would be a bonus of about 6 percent rather than the 23 percent he actually received. Of course, as the top executive in city government, Barwick faces more responsibilities and pressures than other workers. He oversees a staff of 250 and a budget of about $83 million.What warrants a big bonus?

Barwick has earned a bonus each year since he’s been in the post, with last year’s being the biggest, Klanderud said. Those bonuses have been used as a way to award performance without substantially boosting the city manager’s base pay.Barwick said the city tries to pay its workers at least in the 75th percentile of comparable salaries it finds in a survey of other municipalities.”My salary is not yet in the 75th percentile,” Barwick said.Klanderud said the city’s goal is to offer its workers a “competitive” salary. “It’s not the city’s goal to be the highest,” she said.In a survey of six western Colorado towns, four paid their managers more in salary and bonuses than Aspen pays Barwick, according to Klanderud. Vail, Avon, Breckenridge and Snowmass Village compensated their top official more. “Those are the communities we’re competing against,” Klanderud said.Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs paid less, according to the mayor’s data.Why the Aspen City Council uses the base salary plus a bonus to make the total compensation competitive rather than just raise the base salary is unclear. Klanderud said she is a “strong believer in performance pay.” Using a bonus is an effective way to encourage strong performance, she said.

In the case of Barwick and Worcester, the size of the bonuses in January 2005 provided incentive to keep up strong performance throughout the year.”There’s no guarantee you’re going to get that size of bonus,” Klanderud said.Worcester agreed that the bonus isn’t automatic. “It’s a bonus that I don’t get every year,” he said.So what exactly did Barwick and Worcester do in 2004 to warrant the five-figure bonuses? Klanderud wouldn’t say.”I think you’re getting into a personnel area,” she said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is