Wichita City Manager Robert Layton might be getting a pay raise.
Layton, who has served as city manager since February 2009, is up for a 2.5 percent raise from his current salary of $207,866.62, according to city documents.
Even with the raise, Layton’s new salary would be below the $228,000 average for city managers reported in a 2014 survey by the International City/County Management Association for cities with a population between 250,000 to 499,999. Seventeen local governments reported for that survey.
The increase is based on an annual merit and salary review by the seven-member City Council, which oversees Layton and city staff.
City staff is recommending a 1.5 percent increase based on an informal salary survey of city managers in cities comparable to Wichita combined with a 1 percent increase for merit, according to city documents.
The proposed increase would be retroactive to January 1 and comes a week after longtime City Council member Jeff Longwell was sworn in as mayor. Longwell was one of the four council members in 2008 who supported hiring Layton.
In an Eagle editorial board meeting before the mayoral election, Longwell said he would give Layton an “A” grade for his financial leadership, but a “C” for his internal management.
Longwell said he thinks Layton is “extremely deserving” of the raise.
“It’s a pretty modest raise. He’s getting the same increase that all of our staff people have received and then a 1 percent merit increase, which is on the lower end of the scale for merit,” Longwell said.
“It’s easy to justify that considering the city itself has been in very good shape in relationship to finances, and I continue to share with people that we are very well positioned now in terms of financial stability. I’m glad that we have Bob Layton continuing to serve this community.”
In 2008, the council voted 4-3 to hire Layton after nearly a year without a permanent city manager. Layton was city manager in Urbandale, a Des Moines suburb where he worked for nearly 25 years.
The council forced its last manager, George Kolb, to resign on Nov. 28, 2007. Kolb, who made made $170,195, stayed on until January 2008, and council members appointed Ed Flentje, then director of Wichita State University's Hugo Wall School of Urban and Public Affairs, as interim city manager.
Flentje then left after council members agreed to hire Pat Salerno, the former city manager of Sunrise, Fla.
Salerno signed a contract worth more than $215,000 a year, but he backed out a week before he was to start, saying only that he didn't feel right about the job.
Council members then appointed Assistant City Manager Scott Moore as interim city manager.
Layton is Wichita’s 21st city manager and started the job with an annual salary of $185,000.
His salary in Urbandale was $137,445, and his total compensation was estimated at $173,095, according to Urbandale documents previously cited in The Eagle.
City documents supporting the salary increase list a number of accomplishments by Layton and his staff, including the creation of a Tourism Business Improvement District, preparing a new public-private construction bidding policy, participating in a Brookings Institute export study, installing emergency water lines in West Wichita, managing the preliminary design for a new central library, helping create the NBC Baseball Foundation, refinancing $41.4 million in outstanding debt for $3.75 million in debt service savings, negotiating a TIF plan for Union Station, negotiating a WSU special tax levy to support the innovation campus, managing the construction of the new airport and selling 17 surplus lots and buildings for a total price of $1.6 million.