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Smaller bonus for city manager

Aspen City Manager Steve Barwick got a raise in pay. His new base salary is $150,000, and he received a $12,022 bonus.
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Aspen City Manager Steve Barwick won’t get nearly as big a bonus in 2006 as he did last year, but he received a hefty increase in his base pay. The Aspen City Council gave Barwick a raise Wednesday from $123,011 to $150,000 in base salary. He also received a bonus of $12,022, for a total compensation package of $162,022, according to Mayor Helen Klanderud.The Aspen Times reported Tuesday that Barwick received a bonus of $26,700 in January 2005.The decrease in the size of the bonus “doesn’t mean there’s a lessening of his performance,” Klanderud said. Instead, the council changed strategy in how it uses the base pay and bonus, she said.The size of the 2005 bonus had largely gone unnoticed by the media and public. The $26,700 Barwick received, based on performance in 2004, was about 23 percent of the base pay he received that year. Other City Hall employees are eligible for much smaller percentage bonuses, typically less than 10 percent.

Barwick’s $12,022 bonus awarded Wednesday represents about 10 percent of the base pay he received last year, so it’s closer in line with what the other 250 city employees can earn, percentage-wise.City attorney John Worcester also received a raise Wednesday. His base pay increased from $126,443 to $139,788, Klanderud said. Worcester also received a $15,000 bonus, the same as last year. His total wage and bonus package was $154,788.Considering the entire package, Barwick received a $12,311 raise, or about 8 percent.”I would say we were telling him we were pleased with his performance in 2005,” Klanderud said.Barwick has been at the city’s helm since 2000. He oversees an $83 million budget and is ultimately responsible for the 250 city employees. “The buck stops with him when it doesn’t stop with the City Council,” Klanderud said.

Worcester earned a pay hike of $13,345, or 9.5 percent. He’s been the attorney for 11 years.Other city workers were eligible for raises of up to 7 percent this year. The city budgeted an average raise of 4 percent.Aspen Councilwoman Rachel Richards said a good attorney can save the city millions of dollars by being prepared for potential lawsuits and looking out for the government’s interests.”John Worcester is just an excellent attorney. He’s one of the best,” Richards said.Both Worcester and Barwick previously held other positions with the city and were promoted.

As part of the annual performance review of Barwick and Worcester, the City Council set a total compensation figure, then used the base salary and bonus to achieve that goal.Richards said the council traditionally kept the manager’s base salary low and used the bonus to make it competitive. The reasoning had been that the council didn’t want to be locked in to a certain level of base pay in case it needed to hire a new attorney, she said. The bonus was used to reward tenure and performance.Richards said there was no particular reason for the change in strategy. “It makes the math easier,” she said.Klanderud said the city uses a salary survey to help set its pay. It aims to pay employees at the 75th percentile “across the board.” A survey used at this time last year showed that Vail, Avon, Breckenridge and Snowmass Village compensated their city or town managers more than did Aspen, Klanderud said. Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs paid less.The council set Barwick’s pay without a new survey, so it is uncertain if it gained or lost ground in the effort to pay the manager in the 75th percentile.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com


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