ASHLAND — The City Council has approved $87,267 in pay raises for about 52 city employees who a consulting firm said were underpaid compared with their public sector peers.

ASHLAND — The City Council has approved $87,267 in pay raises for about 52 city employees who a consulting firm said were underpaid compared with their public sector peers.

The council approved the pay raises on Tuesday night as part of negotiations with two employee groups.

About 25 unionized clerical and technical workers will get pay raises totaling $21,979, while about 11 will have their pay frozen because a consulting firm study said they were overpaid, according to figures from the city's Human Resources Department.

The clerical and technical workers have not received wage increases during a three-year labor agreement that is ending this year, according to the department.

Employees such as managers and secretaries who are not represented by a union will receive pay raises totaling $65,288.

About 27 of those employees will get raises, while about 10 employees will have their pay frozen.

Most of the secretarial and administrative support employees will get pay increases, Human Resources Director Tina Gray said.

The nonrepresented employees have not received any salary increases or cost-of-living increases since July 2008, according to the department.

The average annual raise for clerical and technical workers will be $879, while management and confidential workers will receive average increases of $2,418.

City Administrator Martha Bennett, City Attorney David Lohman and the city's seven department heads will not get pay raises.

A 2009-2019 compensation study by CPS Human Resource Services said those top city employees were among 70 city workers who were paid less than the median in their field. The study found 30 were overpaid.

Bennett did not recommend pay raises for top managers on Tuesday.

Controversy erupted in 2010 when Bennett recommended pay raises for many city workers, including top management. Some residents were concerned about raises for top managers, who make at least $90,000 and receive generous retirement and health care benefits compared with the private sector.

The pay raises approved by the City Council on Tuesday will not lift all the affected workers to the median pay in their fields. Employees will take one step up in their salary ranges.

Bennett previously said she did not recommend pay cuts for workers the study found were overpaid because that would hurt morale and many employees have their pay set by contract. Pay in those positions will be frozen until median pay rises to match city pay for those jobs.

The $87,267 in pay raises authorized by the City Council on Tuesday was not included in the city's budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. The city will use reserves to cover the added costs.

In 2009, the council authorized paying an estimated $51,660 to California- and Maryland-based CPS Human Resource Services for the city employee compensation and job classification study. Commissioning the study was part of a larger effort to retain city employees.

Ashland Daily Tidings reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at vlaldous@yahoo.com or 541-479-8199.