MEDFORD — The City Council on a split vote approved a 1.5 percent salary increase Thursday for 109 managers and supervisors, making it retroactive to July 1.
Councilors Karen Blair and Eli Matthews voted against the raise, which also boosts an employee's insurance cap from $1,025 to $1,222 in January.
Matthews said now is not the right time to pass out raises, particularly with Oregon's unemployment rate standing at 8.4 percent.
"I think it's absolutely brutal out there," Matthews said. "Many municipalities are dealing with extreme situations."
Blair didn't state her reasons for voting against the wage increase.
Councilor Dick Gordon said management-level employees haven't received an increase since 2010, though health insurance contributions were increased in 2012.
"I have no problems in supporting this, and I support it fully," Gordon said.
Councilor Al Densmore said he sympathized with Matthews' reservations about the increase.
He noted that union members within the city have received increases and added that at some point, the difference in pay between a manager and his staff would narrow. Also, he said, managers are required to work long hours and take the heat from the public if something goes wrong.
"Why would I want to be a supervisor for the sacrifices I make?" Densmore said.
He said the increase represents a very modest compensation.
Mayor Gary Wheeler complimented the staff for forgoing raises since 2010.
The salary increases would require an additional $201,000 in the biennial budget that ends next June. The increase in health insurance that the city would pay for these employees would cost an additional $130,000.
As part of the wage increase package, the council also agreed to giving the city manager authority to grant up to 40 hours administrative leave to the deputy city manager or any other employee who takes on the duties of another management-level employee.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476, or email email@example.com.