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W’bago gives Bleess $8K salary hike

By Staff | Jul 17, 2011

The Winnebago City Council approved raising City Administrator Austin Bleess’ salary from $48,925 to $57,007 Tuesday night.

After discussions began last month, negotiations continued on the city administrator’s salary.

Council members questioned Bleess’ first proposed raise of $48,925 to $61,486 and tabled the negotiations at the June 14 meeting.

Tuesday, Bleess counter offered by suggesting a raise to $57,007 with the stipulation of eliminating compensatory time accumulated throughout the year.

“Personally, I like these numbers and am agreeable to them,” Councilman Rick Johnson says. “Austin has done a great job for us and I want him to continue that great job.”

In the past year, Bleess has accumulated comp time worth $2,900. The administrator will still earn that money, however, with the $2,900 of comp time automatically being factored into his new salary.

Councilman Chris Ziegler says some of the comp time used by Bleess was not cashed in, and instead used for vacation.

“I don’t see why we have to pay you more to go away from comp time,” Ziegler says.

On top of the $2,900 guaranteed, Bleess will receive an additional $5,182 increase in salary bringing the final total to $57,007.

“I think 10 percent is fair and I also am in favor of giving up comp time,” council member Stacy Huntington-Scofield says. “I think the compromise is good.”

After each council member expressed their opinion on the proposed salary increase, the council voted to open the negotiations for public comment.

“I have never gotten a raise in my job even remotely close to that,” citizen Jon Mullaly says. “You (Bleess) seem to be doing a good job, but that’s astronomical. I would be jumping for joy if I ever got a raise that high.”

Others in attendance also voiced concerns.

“Austin is doing a good job, but that is his job,” Millie Hanson says. “When we do a good job I think we can have a small reward that would still give us incentive to do our very best.”

Hanson points out that anything a little higher than a 2.5 percent increase, to factor in inflation, would be an adequate raise.

“I don’t want to get the handle that someone is going to be here for a stepping stone and then they are gone so fast,” Robertson says. “Are we going to be the town that is always looking for a city administrator?”

Johnson made the motion to accept the proposed increase and Huntington-Scofield seconded.

The final vote resulted in Johnson, Huntington- Scofield and Robertson voting in favor of the raise and Ziegler voting against.

The raise will retroactively go into effect from June 21. The day Bleess finished his first year of service.