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City manager gets $182,000

Medford City Manager Brian Sjothun

Medford City Council unanimously approved a 7% pay hike Thursday night for Medford City Manager Brian Sjothun, bringing his base salary to $182,000 a year.

In other business, the council approved pay hikes for nonunion employees and executives that will cost more than $1 million over a two-year period.

Sjothun took over the city’s top job in Medford Sept. 1, 2016, after a contentious city manager search. At the time, he received $157,100 plus benefits.

On Jan. 4, 2018, he got a raise, bringing his base salary to $170,000.

With the latest change, Sjothun’s salary has increased 15% over the past five years, a boost of $24,900 a year over his 2016 wages.

He also receives $500 a month for an automobile allowance, payable in two installments per month. Sjothun receives a cellphone allowance of $65 a month.

Sjothun’s benefits package has also improved. His health savings account increases from $350 a month to $500, and he receives a 3% match into a deferred compensation account.

If the council were to remove him from office without cause, he would receive 12 months base salary. In addition, the new benefits package includes 12 months of health insurance contributions.

If Sjothun remains employed by the city until June 30, 2025, he would be eligible to receive six months of health insurance from the city after he leaves office.

To receive the severance package, Sjothun would be required to sign a waiver of any claims and a nondisparagement agreement with the city.

The estimated costs for the salary changes that take effect July 1 would be $22,768.88 for fiscal year 2022 and $30,823.09 for fiscal year 2023.

According to an analysis by the city, Sjothun’s previous salary was 14.94% less than other comparable cities. With his new salary, he would be 8.93% below comparable cities.

“When looking at comps (comparables) and Mr. Sjothun’s position, the current salary is under market,” Councilor Tim D’Alessandro said.

Councilor Clay Bearnson said, “As long as there is no $2 million severance in here, I think we’re all doing good as a city and as a governing body. We’re winning with the contract.”

Councilors generally applauded Sjothun’s efforts as city manager.

Councilor Kevin Stine said Sjothun’s achievements include items on Thursday’s agenda, such as helping establish council goals as well as the city’s vision plan. He cited the city’s recent negotiations with union groups as another example, pointing out that in prior years negotiations have tended to drag on.

“These are not easy things to do,” Stine said.

In other action, the council approved pay hikes for 112 nonunion employees, representing about 25% of the city’s workforce.

A 2% salary increase will begin July 1 for nonunion employees and executives. Another 2% increase kicks in July 1, 2022.

Police sergeants and lieutenants will receive a 3% increase this year and a 3% increase in 2022.

The city will pay the full cost for the base health insurance plan for these employees, amounting to $1,674 a month. The employee would be required to pay the difference if the employee chose a higher cost plan.

During the first year of the pay hikes, the city has budgeted an extra $375,261, and in the second year it will be $917,208.

Reach freelance writer Damian Mann at dmannnews@gmail.com.