VIRGINIA BEACH — City Council voted in their formal meeting Tuesday to approve annual pay raises for council appointees including the City Attorney, City Clerk, City Real Estate Assessor, and City Auditor.
Council voted to unanimously on two of the appointees’ raises with Councilman John Moss voting “no” on the ordinances for the City Attorney and City Real Estate Assessor’s salaries.
Moss compared City Attorney Mark Stiles’ salary to that of the U.S. Attorney General’s.
Moss then said City Assessor Ronald Agnor’s salary with a car allowance of $6,000 “is more than adequate for the responsibilities of his office.”
On the other hand, Moss said he would’ve voted for more than a three percent raise for City Auditor Lyndon Remias who he thinks “makes varying contributions each and every year in identifying issues in our community.”
“I hope in the future we would think about a bonus that could be a larger sum and more represent [the Auditor’s] contribution in the terms of building public confidence in city government and I think [three percent] doesn’t do enough justice to that,” Moss said.
The original vote to raise council appointees’ salary by 3 percent was stalled during the Aug. 20 meeting when residents showed up in numbers to speak out against increasing then City Manager Dave Hansen’s salary.
As a result of the deferred vote, Mayor Bobby Dyer called a special closed session for the council to “review appointee evaluations” on the following Tuesday, and Hansen announced his resignation the next morning, Aug. 28.
Section 2-89 of the city code dictates City Council review and determine salaries and benefits for council appointees annually.
Here are the base salaries for council appointees before the raise and not including any “deferred compensation plans” or car allowances:
- City Attorney — $227,449.30
- City Clerk — $102,000.08
- City Real Estate Assessor — $147,899.96
- City Auditor — $130,299.78
Hiring a new City Manager
Before the formal session, members of City Council discussed the past appointment processes and the way forward to hiring a new City Manager in their informal meeting Tuesday.
Regina Hilliard, the city’s director of human resources, briefed the 2015 process which started with a request for quotes to acquire, Waters and Company, a firm specialized in recruiting for executive positions and led to the January 2016 contracting of Hansen.
RELATED STORY: City Manager Dave Hansen resigns
Vice Mayor Jim Wood served on the council during the last recruitment process and agreed with the majority of other council members who said the process to appoint a new CEO should include more engagement from the public.
Wood also said he wasn’t too impressed with the third-party firm when it came to the “quality and quantity of candidates” selected.
“I will tell you, just talking to some other folks Chesapeake just had a fairly successful recruitment process with using the firm they did, by contrast, I think Norfolk had very few people apply but they did not use an outside firm,” he said.
The process to find a new City Manager in 2015 started in July and included feedback sessions in focus groups with 100 city employees and town halls with residents.
The council’s goal this time is to further enhance public engagement factoring in tools like Facebook LIVE sessions and the city’s survey tool before the interview process as “it’s of principal importance the public have confidence in the person selected for this job,” Councilman Michael Berlucchi said.
Moss said potential City Manager candidates should also tour or “see the communities on the ground” to get a first-hand feel for city neighborhoods.
City Council is scheduled to for a retreat on Sept. 10 where Dyer said they’ll discuss the specifics of the appointment process in further detail.