WALLA WALLA — Council approved a 3 percent raise for City Manager Nabiel Shawa by a vote of 5-2.
All seven Council members, including those who cast dissenting votes, praised Shawa for his work. But concerns were voiced over the 2014 property tax increase approved by Council in November.
Top City Salaries
Directors/2014 Monthly Salary
Library Director $7,217
Parks Director $9,369
Fire Chief $9,896
Police Chief $10,695
Public Works Director $10,206
Deputy City Manager $9,866
“Last year I voted and I think many on this council voted to implement a new tax, and now we are seeing some new pay raises in 2014,” said Council Member Chris Plucker, who voted against the raise. “I don’t think it is fair to the people that we represent that we go and raise taxes and the following year boost salaries when many of our citizens struggle.”
“He has been a fine leader for our community,” added Council Member Mary Lou Jenkins, the second dissenting vote. “We tax people and turn around and give it to our city employees. That is a very difficult decision for this Council to make.”
The 3 percent increase will take Shawa’s yearly salary from $142,800 to $147,084, but his will be the smallest percent increase of all the city’s department heads.
At the top of the list is an 8.5 percent salary increase for City Attorney Tim Donaldson, which was unanimously approved by Council on Wednesday night.
All seven Council members commended Donaldson on the work he has done, and Barrow noted Donaldson’s salary is significantly lower than other city attorneys and that Donaldson has refused salary increases in previous years.
The city manager and city attorney are the only two city positions whose contracts and salaries are determined and approved by Council.
Salary increases for the city’s remaining departments heads — police chief, fire chief, public works director, parks director, library director and deputy city manager — are set by the city manager.
Shawa said all six department heads received 5 percent salary increase in 2014, adding that 2 percent of the raise was a cost-of-labor increase and the remaining 3 percent was “based on their individual performance evaluations, progress on achieving identified goals and teamwork,” Shawa said.
With the except of police and fire employees, remaining city employees received a 2 percent salary increase for 2014, not including scheduled step increases.
Police and fire unions are currently negotiating contracts for 2013 and 2014. Those negotiations are expected to be settled in binding arbitration.