The Anchorage Assembly will hear public testimony Tuesday on an ordinance that would cap pay for the city’s executive workers.
Assemblyman Dick Traini says it’s about transparency and accountability in local government. Mayor Dan Sullivan says it’s about being a mouthpiece for the unions. Traini proposes limiting executive employee pay raises through an ordinance. He explains what it would require the Sullivan Administration to do.
“Set their salaries so that they cannot have any increases without it being tied to the cost of living adjustments for the city of Anchorage,” Traini said.
Earlier this year, the Anchorage Assembly passed a controversial ordinance backed by Mayor Sullivan, which limited the pay and benefits of the city’s union workers by tying their pay to the inflation rate.
The current proposed ordinance would limit raises for executives by tying their to a 5-year average of the Consumer Price Index for Anchorage, plus 1 percent. It would also address the cost of leave packages that Traini alleges, in some cases contain weeks of additional leave, and have gone unaccounted for.
The Assembly is also expected to hear public testimony on another ordinance introduced by Traini. It would require Assembly approval for any money spent on opinion polls and lobbyists and lower the amount that the Mayor’s office can spend on outside attorneys, without assembly approval, from $30,000 to $10,000. Traini says that the ordinances are a response to AO37.
“Thirty-seven was outsourced. They outsourced it to a private attorney, and it came to $29,500. We weren’t told what they were working on until it was already done. This would drop it to $10,000 and require them to specify what they’re hiring the attorney to work on,” Traini said.
Sullivan says an internal study of union employees’ wages and benefits was conducted before AO37 was proposed and he thinks that there should be a study of executive wages and benefits before any changes are made.
“The first thing that needs to happen before he delves into an area where really he shouldn’t be delving is, we probably need to do a compensation study,” Sullivan said. “Let’s figure out, before we start limiting their pay – how are their paid compared to other executives in similar positions.”
“I think this needs a lot more work before what he’s trying to do is ready for prime time.”
Sullivan says he believes extra leave is justified for executive employees since they often work long hours, but in contrast with union employees, do not get paid overtime. And leave awards, he says, are one of the only ways to attract and retain employees. But he says, that’s for the Assembly to decide.
“You know, it’s petty politics unfortunately, and uh …but I don’t think there’s the votes to support any of ‘em going forward anyway, but I guess we’ll see what happens,” Sullivan said.
Earlier this summer the assembly passed an ordinance requiring that, in addition to their salary amounts, non-cashable leave and benefits be disclosed for employees who had changes in their compensation in the past quarter. Sullivan says his office plans to disclose that information at Tuesday’s regular Assembly meeting.