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S'side city manager receives healthy pay raise

The Sunnyside City Council had nothing but accolades for City Manager Bob Stockwell this past Monday night, as it unanimously approved what amounts to a $20,440 annual pay raise from when he was hired just over a year ago.

"This in fact is a request of the mayor," said Mayor Ed Prilucik in regards to the pay raise for Stockwell.

Council approved increasing Stockwell's annual pay from $87,500, which was agreed upon when Stockwell was first hired, to $107,940. The difference between the two salaries is just over $20,000.

But what was presented to those in attendance last night didn't quite tell the entire story. Responding to a question from the audience about why there was a difference between the amount of money Council needs to amend the 2005 budget and the actual salary figures, Prilucik explained the difference between the two salary amounts is that Stockwell had already received a 3 percent pay increase in January, which brought his base salary to $90,125. Council didn't make that apparent in the summary information made available to the public. The budget amendment request totaling $14,497 that Council approved will cover the money the city will need to spend on Stockwell's pay raise from May 3 through the end of the budget year.

The city will be taking $10,149 from the current expense fund and $2,174 from the water and sewer funds to cover Stockwell's pay increase. Stockwell's annual salary equates to $8,995 per month.

Prilucik explained that during the initial negotiations to bring Stockwell to Sunnyside last year the two sides had a difficult time agreeing on the yearly increase in pay.

"We did agree he would prove his worth," said Prilucik. "In fact, it is my opinion, he has."

The mayor praised Stockwell, who is the lone employee of the Council, for his efforts in trying to become a better city manager for the residents of Sunnyside. Prilucik said Stockwell has shown his worth to the city and the Council in a very short time.

Prilucik provided a 2004 salary data sheet of towns of comparable size that showed the pay for other city managers.

In the community of Battle Ground, which had 14,220 residents in 2004 compared to Sunnyside's 14,520, the city manager was paid $8,543 per month. The City of Arlington's (14,700 residents) city administrator was paid between $7,159 and $10,207. The Camas (15,360 residents) city administrator receives between $7,461 and $8,910 per month. On a more local level, the Ellensburg (16,390 residents) city manager is paid within a range of $6,173 to $8,204. In Moses Lake (16,110 residents) the city manager in 2004 received $8,791 per month. The Port Angeles (18,530 residents) city manager earned $8,834 per month. The average salary for city administrators/city managers overseeing communities in Washington with a population between 15,000 to 29,999 residents was $9,073 per month. The average salary of administrators in cities with between 7,500 and 14,999 residents was $8,995 per month in 2004.

The rest of the Council backed up the thoughts of the mayor.

Councilman Bruce Ricks said the city has been benefiting from having an above average city manager at a below average cost. Ricks said the Council is backing up such recommendations from organizations like Sunnyside Economic Development Association members, specifically Ivan White, who came before Council urging that the city starting paying quality salaries to attract candidates who will stay awhile.

"In order to keep an above average manager we need to do this," said Ricks.

Councilman Jim Restucci said the city is extremely lucky to have Stockwell aboard.

"I would hate to see where we would be without him right now," said Restucci.

"He has done an outstanding job," concurred Councilman Paul Garcia.

Councilwoman Bengie Aguilar acknowledged the efforts of Stockwell in trying to reach out to the Hispanic community. Aguilar told about how well Stockwell's recent interview on the Spanish radio station KDNA went.

"I hope and pray he (Stockwell) is going to stick around for a long time," said Aguilar.

Stockwell expressed his gratitude to the Council for their trust in him and thanked them for the pay raise.

"You are doing a good job of trapping me in Sunnyside," joked Stockwell.

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