By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The top of the salary ranges for Santa Rosa’s police and fire chiefs were increased 6 and 10 percent respectively by the City Council on Tuesday to ensure they are paid more than their subordinates.
The move doesn’t trigger raises for Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm or interim Fire Chief Mark McCormick, but it does allow raises to be granted at the discretion of the city manager.
“It’s an issue I’ll have to weigh at the time of the annual reviews,” said City Manager Kathy Millison.
The city’s top brass gave up the 8 percent raises granted by the council in 2008 after it became clear the city’s finances were faltering, said Human Resources Director Fran Elm.
That helped create “compaction” between salaries of department heads and those of their top deputies.
“Their subordinate managers are increasing above the levels of the chiefs and that’s not an appropriate situation for the responsibility and authority delegated to those positions,” Millison said.
Schwedhelm, who has been with the department for 27 years, makes the top of the chief’s salary range, $181,620. The new salary range tops out at $192,408, an increase of $10,788 or 6 percent.
McCormick is the deputy fire chief who has been acting fire chief since Bruce Varner’s departure. He makes $179,780 a year, the top of the salary range for his position, Elm said.
Under the new salary plan, the next chief could be paid as much as $191,076, a $11,296 increase over current levels, or 6.3 percent.
Millison stressed that there is no guarantee an existing or future chief would be granted top pay. She has hired new administrators below the top salary ranges for their positions and reclassified some jobs to create lower salaries.
She also noted that both chiefs will take part in efforts to control the salary and benefit costs of workers unrepresented by unions. This will include contributions of 2 percent of salary toward the city’s retirement costs, and a 3.3-percent reduction in pay through furloughs.
Those changes are expected to save $181,000 this year.
Editor’s Note: Due to an error on the city of Santa Rosa’s website, an earlier version of this story contained inaccurate salary information for Deputy Fire Chief Mark McCormick.