Upper Arlington News

$183,600

Council gives manager additional raise for 2013

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Upper Arlington City Council last week agreed to provide City Manager Ted Staton with an additional 1-percent raise for 2013.

Last month, council approved a 1-percent raise for Staton, who replaced former Upper Arlington City Manager Virginia Barney in October 2011, when it passed the municipal operating budget for 2013.

That move, council members said, was in keeping with the terms of Staton's contract.

During a special meeting Jan. 22, council unanimously approved increasing Staton's 2013 salary by another 1 percent, bringing his annual salary to $183.600.

This time, council members said, the raise followed a performance evaluation of Staton and puts his annual increase in line with those given to non-bargaining unit employees who received "satisfactory" or "above satisfactory" in their annual reviews.

"All of the council members are very pleased with (Staton's) performance," said Upper Arlington Mayor and Council President Don Leach. "He's done a great job leading the administration, being active in the community, learning about Upper Arlington and managing the financial challenges we face as a result of the loss of state funding."

Council members credited Staton, with the assistance city staff including longtime Finance Director Cathe Armstrong, with Upper Arlington under last year retaining AAA status from Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's. Proceeds from the 2012 bonds the city plans to issue will finance improvements along Lane Avenue as part of the new mixed-use development, as well as various capital improvements throughout Upper Arlington.

The city also made strides in economic development, which included continued activity in the Lane Avenue Community Entertainment District, a 39-acre area which officials have predicted could generate more than $711,000 in new, annual property taxes and tax-increment financing deals.

"I am proud of what our organization has achieved during my first full year here," Staton said in a statement to ThisWeek Upper Arlington News. "As a result of strong City Council leadership, and the unparalleled dedication and professionalism of our employees, we have helped move the community forward.

"We strengthened the city's financial bottom line, making us better prepared to address the significant financial challenges before us. My colleagues helped launch the first electric aggregation program, which saves our residents money on their utility bills, and two months ago we implemented the new UA Alerts system which will better enable us to communicate with residents and others during emergencies.

"And there has been plenty of economic development activity from which to take pride -- notably the Lane Avenue project and continued growth at Kingsdale. Some of our employee accomplishments that are most noteworthy include the rapid response following our mid-summer wind storms and the stories of individual life saving work from our public safety employees."

Upper Arlington has an approximately $28.8 million operating budget for 2013, and an approximately $13.2 million reserve, or "rainy day" fund.

Those figures are down from the city's $29.1 million budget and $14.3 million reserve in 2012. Some council members said Staton is the right person to lead the city as it continues to streamline expenses after the elimination of the Ohio estate tax, which provided roughly $3.5 million to $4.5 million in annual revenue, and following the reduction of the city's share of local government funds from about $5 million annually five years ago, to an estimated $1 million in 2013.

Specifically, Councilman Mike Schadek pointed to Staton's role in helping the city lock in health insurance costs for city employees which will be 2.4 percent lower in 2013 and 2014 than they were last year.

"Ted really has done an excellent job," Schadek said. "When we hired him, that's what we expected and that's what we've gotten.

"With the (additional) 1 percent, we wanted to express our confidence in him ... and we thought that given the state of the economy, (another) 1 percent was fair. He is in demand, and we wanted to make sure we not only are recruiting but also retaining the best quality."

In addition to development, community outreach and personnel issues, Councilwoman Deborah Johnson lauded Staton for forward thinking in researching and pursuing "shared services" with other government entities and organizations to further cut city costs.

Currently, the city is studying whether a consolidation of 911 dispatch centers with Dublin, Hilliard and Worthington could improve emergency-response times for residents and reduce staff and operational expenses.

"He's always looking out for shared services," she said. "We feel we have a very good working relationship with (Staton) and we'd like to keep him around.

"We're very happy he's in Upper Arlington. He's working very hard, and (the additional raise) is not out of line with raises we gave other people. We like to keep people that are doing a good job, and you can do that by rewarding them for good work."

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