City Manager Russell Allen has told Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker that he will accept any decision by the City Council to lower his recent $10,000 raise.
Lowering Allen’s salary would be in violation of the city manager’s employment agreement, which states that the “employee’s base salary or other benefits shall not be decreased during the term of the agreement.”
But Meeker said Allen won’t object should that occur. “Russell Allen has told me that if the council wants to adjust his salary based on budgetary reasons he will not hold us to the written contract,” Meeker said.
Meeker said last month that the council would revisit its May 5 decision in light of public anger over Allen’s annual salary being increased by 4.76 percent from $210,000 to $220,000.
Allen’s raise is three-quarters of a percent more than any other city employee would be eligible for under the city manager’s proposed $696 million budget for next year. The raise was criticized by a number of speakers at Tuesday night’s public hearing to discuss the city manager’s budget.
Meeker said Allen’s raise will be reviewed after the council has looked over the entire budget. The council will meet each Monday at 4 p.m. until a budget is passed.
The City Council spent 95 minutes in closed session during its May 2 meeting discussing Allen's performance review. Only Councilman Thomas Crowder voted against the raise after that discussion. Councilman Rodger Koopman did not attend the meeting.
Some councilors wanted to give Allen a larger raise than he received, while others wanted no raise.
Meeker said today that the purpose of the raise was to reward Allen for a job well done.
“What the council was attempting to do was reward an outstanding manager for excellent performance,” Meeker said.
Critics of the raise have said the council’s decision was tone-deaf given the current economic environment and the budget cuts being implemented by the city. The decision drew even more criticism after Allen released his budget, which calls for smaller raises for city employees, the elimination of a cost-of-living adjustment and higher health care costs for some.
“It’s certainly a perception issue. It’s not a lot of dollars but it’s a perception issue,” Meeker said. “And the council pays attention to perception so we’ll take a look at it.”