At the end of a four-hour meeting that mostly centered on Walmart, the Blaine City Council approved a 4 percent salary increase for its city manager.
Clark Arneson’s base salary will be increasing from $143,916 to $149,673. His annual car allowance will also be increasing from $3,600 to $4,800. He receives $990 per month for his cafeteria plan, according to Human Resources Director Terry Dussault.
This will be only the third salary increase he has seen in the last five years and in 2013 he made less than city managers in communities Blaine compared itself to.
“We try to look at similar communities and stay in the median. We don’t want to be too high and we don’t want to be too low,” said Councilmember Wes Hovland.
According to the chart the council saw during a closed session on Arneson’s performance review, Arneson in 2013 made less in base salary than city managers in St. Louis Park, Bloomington, Coon Rapids, Minnetonka, Eagan, Edina, Lakeville, Woodbury, Maple Grove, Brooklyn Park and Eden Prairie.
For example, the St. Louis Park manager had a 2013 salary of $157,181 and a car allowance of $7,200. The Coon Rapids manager had a salary of $142,438 and a car allowance of $6,000, but $11,500 in deferred compensation.
The Minnetonka manager received almost the same amount of compensation as the Coon Rapids manager last year once a $5,505 bonus was factored in. Arneson did not receive any bonuses in 2013.
Since 2008, the raises Arneson has received have been 2.16 percent Sept. 4, 2008, 3.5 percent Sept. 3, 2009 and 3 percent Jan. 1, 2012.
Blaine employees received 3.5 percent salary increases in 2008 and 2009, a 1 percent bump in 2011 and 2012 and 2 percent raises in 2013 and 2014.
According to Hovland, Arneson as well as Finance Director Joe Huss and his department staff have done “a phenomenal job” balancing the budget and “working with a reduced staff to accomplish the same amount of work and do it efficiently.”
Hovland said some feedback that came from the council during its closed session included wanting to provide better customer service for residents who are not as familiar with the application and review process as developers who do it every day. Letters inviting neighborhoods to public meetings sometimes need to be more clear on what the expectations are for the meeting as well, he said.
“He’s doing a good job,” Hovland said. “There’s always room for improvement.”
Eric Hagen is at firstname.lastname@example.org