Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Divided Topeka Governing Body Votes to Pay Interim City Manager $175,000 a Year

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Divided Topeka Governing Body Votes to Pay Interim City Manager $175,000 a Year

Article excerpt

Topeka City Council members Sylvia Ortiz and Jeff Coen questioned late Tuesday why Topeka's governing body was considering paying $175,000 a year to interim city manager Doug Gerber.

"That seems like a tremendous amount of money," said Coen, who indicated a Google search he had conducted showed city managers make "$106,000, or something like that."

Ortiz recalled how Dan Stanley was paid the equivalent of $129,000 a year to be Topeka's interim city manager from 2011 to 2012.

But Councilman Brendan Jensen responded that someone with qualifications and experience is needed to run this city, "and this is what we have to pay to get it."

Councilwomen Michelle De La Isla and Sandra Clear stressed that Gerber holds a great deal of responsibility.

Clear said the governing body "already set the bar" for the job's pay last month when it OK'd a city salary schedule in which $175,000 is below the midpoint of the city manager's salary range.

Jensen, Clear and De La Isla subsequently voted in the majority with Mayor Larry Wolgast and council members Tony Emerson and Richard Harmon as the governing body approved the contract in a 6-2 vote. Ortiz and Coen dissented, while Councilwomen Karen Hiller and Elaine Schwartz were absent.

The city council voted Oct. 4 to hire Gerber, who had been deputy city manager, to become interim manager effective Oct. 7 to replace Jim Colson, who resigned effective that day. Colson worked under a contract that paid him $175,134 annually.

Ortiz said she voted against the contract Tuesday because of the high pay rate and because governing body members Tuesday didn't add wording making it clear Gerber would work at the pleasure of the city council. City attorney Lisa Robertson suggested that move wasn't necessary.

Gerber was Beloit's city administrator from 2003 to 2009 and Goodland's city manager from 2009 to 2014 before Colson hired him as Topeka finance director. …

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