Raleigh city manager gets controversial raise

June 17, 2009 4:47:11 AM PDT
The Raleigh City Council passed its nearly $700,000 million budget Tuesday, and it includes a $10,000 raise for City Manager Russell Allen. In April, the council approved a 4-and-a-half percent pay raise for Allen.

It may seem like a standard increase, but since there is a recession, the council was criticized because he was already making $200,000 a year.

Out of 3,400 City of Raleigh employees, Russell is the highest paid. So when the council awarded him a $10,000 raise, the public took notice.

"It's a small item in the budget," one taxpayer said, "but chief executive pay is a big deal on Wall Street as well as Hillsborough Street."

"Even my mother-in-law questioned his raise," council member Phil Isley said.

Allen was also the man responsible for proposing the city's budget, which will offer 4 percent merit pay raises to the best employees. However, there is no extra across the board worker raise like last year's 1.5 percent increase.

When Allen was hired in 2001, he received a salary of $140,000.

Since then, he has received a raise every year. To date, his total pay has increased 57 percent.

That's about 5 to 6 percent a year, which is roughly twice the rate of inflation. And even during a recession, the council affirmed its earlier decision to grant Allen a $10,000 raise.

Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker credits Allen for making sure the convention center opened on time and for anticipating the recession by saving the City money and keeping some jobs vacant.

Meeker said the raise is deserved but also awkward timing.

"I hope the public will understand that the council has looked at this closely," Meeker said. "We understand there is concern about it. We have a signed contract. We're going to stick with it; we're going to stick with our word based on that cycle."

In Tuesday's closed session, the Raleigh City Council decided not to vote on Russell Allen's pay raise, so his salary will increase by $10,000 to $220,000 a year.

The final Raleigh budget is almost $700 million and property taxes will not increase.


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