Kessel's contract renewed: Administrator to see more than a 10 percent increaseDickinson’s city administrator will see a renewed contract and about a 13-percent increase in his base salary to $100,000 per year after the City Commission offered a positive review during a meeting at City Hall Monday evening.
Dickinson’s city administrator will see a renewed contract and about a 13-percent increase in his base salary to $100,000 per year after the City Commission offered a positive review during a meeting at City Hall Monday evening.
“I am humbled by the positive comments made by commissioners,” City Administrator Shawn Kessel said. “I appreciate the staff who support city operations and make my job easier.”
Out of five commissioners who surveyed Kessel, he received his highest scores in leadership, communication skills and community relationship building.
“I am happy to say that, in general, this is a strong evaluation under leadership,” Mayor Dennis Johnson said. “I think the ratings were very strong.”
Commissioners cited management as one of Kessel’s strengths and commented on his competency, thorough job knowledge and excellent communication skills, Johnson said.
A couple commissioners expressed concerns about the possibility that the bustling area activity could overwhelm Kessel or other city staff at times, Johnson said.
One commissioner expressed some concern with consistency and Kessel following through with commitments, Johnson said.
One expressed concern about possible employee burnout and ability to keep the city fully staffed, Johnson said.
No commissioners registered a “does not meet expectation” score.
Kessel’s 2011 base salary will be $100,000, an increase from $88,400 for 2010 — an increase Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns feels is a big jump.
“If our goal is to ultimately get his salary in line with city administrators from other communities, that’s fine, but to do it in one swift move — 13 percent in one year is quite a leap,” Oltmanns said, adding he feels the increase should be kept in line with other city employee wage increases.
“A 13-percent increase versus a 2 to 4 (percent) increase for other employees is hard to warrant,” Oltmanns said.
With a three-year contract approved versus a two-year contract, Oltmanns recommended Kessel receive up to a 5 percent increase each year — an amount he feels can keep the commission accountable.
“I’m looking at the moral issue for the support employees for Mr. Kessel and when you are a city employee and working toward the same goal that the administrator is and you’re working as hard and putting in the hours and you see your supervisor get a 13 percent increase and that’s not how it held through,” Oltmanns said. “We didn’t give a 13 percent increase across the board for all city employees. I think that you’re going to have a morale issue from the bottom up when you can implement the same type of strategy, but do it in a format that is similar to how other city employees are receiving their salary increases.”
Commissioner Carson Steiner said he agrees with the $100,000 salary as he feels it is where it needs to be to stay competitive.
Johnson recommended the new salary based on Kessel’s growing workload, performance and market salaries for senior management.
Commissioner Rod Landblom said while he feels $100,000 is significant, at the same time, there’s a chance it may not be enough “considering what we may be facing here.”
Johnson’s memo offered a comparison of other city administrator salaries based upon information from the North Dakota League of Cities and phone calls to individual cities.
The 2010 salary for Williston’s city administrator was $85,246, according to city documents.
Jamestown’s city administrator salary for 2010 was $90,090 and $95,562 for 2011, according to city documents.
Mandan’s city administrator salary for 2010 was $90,142 but none was listed for 2011, according to city documents.
Kessel’s $100,000 base salary will be paid in 26 bi-weekly payments of about $3,800, according to Kessel’s contract.
Kessel will also receive a vehicle allowance of $6,000 and 20 days paid vacation per year, according to the approved contract.
“Mr. Kessel has ably led the city through two tumultuous years while receiving strong performance reviews for both years,” Johnson said, according to a city memo. “I believe this salary recommendation is appropriate considering the growing magnitude of the energy impact on Mr. Kessel’s job responsibilities and the regional salary market for city administrators.”