The West Hollywood City Council last night approved a $127 million budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. The budget anticipates $116 million in revenue for the fiscal year, which begins July 1. Revenue for the General Fund, which includes all revenue not specifically allocated to a particular project or program, is anticipated to be $88.3 million, with operating expenditures of $86.4 million. The projected revenue is 3.6% more than last year.
The budget was approved after objections from several residents to a proposed restructuring of the city’s management staff and other positions, which would result in salary increases for a few city employees. Those residents also complained about the number of contractors engaged by the city, arguing that their work should be done by existing city employees. Several emails objecting to the salary increases and contracts came from United Neighbors for Responsible Development (UNReD), a group organized to fight new housing projects such as that planned for 826 Kings Rd
The changes to the city’s executive management team include freezing the assistant city manager position, which is empty with the retirement last year of Sam Baxter. The city’s Community Development and Finance & Technology Services directors, Stephanie DeWolfe and David Wilson, will move into newly created deputy city manager positions. The city will create two levels of directors beneath that. The top level will include directors of the Community Development, Finance & Technology Services and Public Works departments. Those in the lower tier will include directors of Administrative Services, Communications, Economic Development, Human Services & Rent Stabilization and Public Safety departments. Another eight lower-ranking jobs also would be reclassified to more senior positions.
Those employees moving from director to deputy city manager roles will see an increase of 11% from the lowest tier of their current salary range ($177,162) to the lowest tier of the their deputy city manager salary range ($197,309). The increase from the highest level of their current range ($207,573) to the highest level of salaries for the deputy city manager position ($233,779) is 12.6%.
Under the city’s agreement with the managers union, anyone moved to a higher position would receive pay at the lowest level of that position or an increase in current salary of 5%, whichever is higher.
The objections to the restructuring focused on the pay increases, with some of those writing to the council oddly calling out the recent terror attack at a gay club in Orlando, Fla., as a reason for the council to delay consideration of any pay increases or management restructuring. Some said they wanted more public discussion of the proposed restructuring and pay increases.
City Manager Paul Arevalo and Councilmember John Heilman noted that such restructuring takes place every few years to accommodate the growth in an employee’s expertise and to keep the city’s pay levels in line with those in communities of a similar size and similar level of services and with which the city competes in hiring. Those cities include Beverly Hills, Berkeley, Brea, Burbank, Calabasas, Claremont, Culver City, Glendale, Manhattan Beach, Pasadena, Redondo Beach and Santa Monica. A study of those cities’s pay ranges shows the new salaries for senior executives in West Hollywood generally are higher than the average on the low end of the salary ranges and lower at the top of the range.
The council declined suggestions by some speakers that it postpone consideration of staff compensation to another meeting. However Mayor Lauren Meister recommended that the council add a salary level lower to what was proposed for executive staffers. With that, the council voted unanimously to accept the new budget.