An idea to establish a Kenai Peninsula Borough chief of staff, replacing the assistant to the mayor position, drew public protest, borough assembly debate and angry comments from newly elected Mayor John Williams.
“We who pay the bill can’t afford you anymore,” said Ninilchik activist Ruby Kime.
“Moving Mr. (Tim) Navarre from grade 2 to grade 7 is exorbitant. If we’re going to have two mayors at $80,000, we have to stop,” Kime said.
“A chief of staff who gets $60,000 is plenty,” she said.
Looking directly at the audience in the assembly chamber, Williams raised his voice and said, “First of all, people need to get their facts straight.”
He said Navarre agreed to serve as chief of staff and receive the salary of the assistant mayor position.
“The man on my right is not taking the M7 range. He is taking the M2 range and no car allowance. This mayor is not taking a car allowance, either,” Williams said, referring to Navarre seated at his right.
Assembly member Gary Superman asked General Services Director Richard Campbell what salary was paid to the previous administration’s assistant to the mayor.
“Sixty or $65,000, plus 10 percent, plus a car allowance,” Campbell said.
Williams said, “This borough is a $400 million business. No other business this size has a chief executive officer and a chief operating officer that works as cheap.”
Assembly member Pete Sprague said, “The time is not right for such a raise.”
“The man who is suggested ... to take $58,000, plus 10 percent, is still a $10,000 reduction. That’s commendable,” said assembly member Margaret Gilman.
Assembly member Milli Martin suggested postponing action on the resolution until after Williams presents his transition report in January. Assembly member Grace Merkes said the assembly should look at raising the pay to a level 3 or 4 rather than all the way up to level 7.
Williams, however, described the added supervisory duties the chief of staff would have that the assistant to the mayor never had.
After being counseled by administration not to start sidestepping preset salary ranges, which are tied to specific job duties, the assembly voted 7 to 2 in favor of creating a chief of staff position.
Assembly members Sprague and Paul Fischer cast the dissenting votes.
Williams apologized for his raised-voice remarks.
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