Pleasanton City Manager Nelson Fialho earned a 12% salary increase and city attorney Daniel Sodergren took in an 8% raise on Tuesday, with the City Council citing glowing performance reviews and a need to bring both employees' pay closer to market averages.
Fialho, who has led the city government in his position for the past 15 years, will now receive an annual salary to $255,452. Sodergren, who was hired in May 2016, now has an annual salary of $226,800.
No other changes to their compensations or benefits were proposed.
The council members unanimously approved the recommended salary adjustments for both men at the end of Tuesday night's regular meeting, after Councilwoman Julie Testa requested the items be pulled from the consent calendar for full public discussion.
"I think everyone agrees that our city manager does an outstanding job. I think everyone is in agreement that a correction to his salary is appropriate," Testa said, also expressing support for the city attorney's raise. "But when we're talking an unexpected salary increase, I think it's really important that it not be a consent calendar issue ... that we have the full explanation for the public."
Mayor Jerry Thorne, in his written staff reports before the meeting, commended Fialho and Sodergren for accomplishments on the job and pointed out that neither has received a pay raise in over two years.
In the city manager's case, he voluntarily passed on raises in prior years during and after the recession to help ensure the city's fiscal stability, according to Thorne. As a result, his salary level has been the lowest for city managers in the Tri-Valley, and pay increases for all other Pleasanton city employee groups have outpaced Fialho's, including top-tier management positions directly below him.
"While the recommended salary will not attain the market average, it will position the city manager's salary closer to the average market and alleviate internal compaction," the mayor wrote.
Neither Fialho nor Sodergren received a performance evaluation or new compensation consideration last year -- which Thorne called "an oversight" by the council. The council completed their reviews in July and advanced the proposed salary increases from closed-session.
The mayor noted that Fialho and Sodergren each still remain below the market average in the area for their positions even after the new raises.
The council heard public comment from two speakers Tuesday, both in support of the raises and both with ties to the city government.
"The talent is definitely here, and they bring it every day," said Jack Balch, a member of the city's Planning Commission and a business owner and employer in Pleasanton
"While (the raises) might be a little larger than some people would expect it, 3% or 4% maybe being something we would generally see, the nuance of that is that it would cost the city much greater to replace these two fine gentlemen," Balch added.
Former councilman Arne Olson commended Fialho for his performance, saying the city manager operates more like an effective CEO.
"His job is very complex, a lot of moving parts," Olson said of Fialho. "I felt this way when I was on the council, and I still believe it: His pay is below where it should be."
The council discussed the raises for about 20 minutes, including a staff presentation, before voting 5-0 in favor of both. Fialho and Sodergren were not present during the conversation, leaving the room for that part of the meeting.