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Merit increases in the cards for key city leadership

Two Claremont officials received salary increases last month totaling more than $1,800 per month, according to city officials.

Assistant City Manager Tony Ramos and Chief of Police Paul Cooper each received a 5 percent raise effective July 1 as part of an annual merit increase, a performance-based raise in conjunction with an employee’s contract. Mr. Ramos will make an additional $926 per month, while Mr. Cooper is making $972.

According to a list of employee salaries effective August 18, Mr. Ramos will now be making a monthly salary of about $14,733, with a yearly total of $176,806. Mr. Cooper’s new total is $15,485 per month, $185,825 yearly.

Both city employees’ pay increases come in response to taking on additional workloads that exceed their normal duties, stated City Manager Jeff Parker.

“Both went above and beyond their job responsibilities,” Mr. Parker said. “There is still opportunity for growth, and if [employees] are performing at the level they are being asked, then it is only fair that they receive that increase. That goes for all employees all the way through assistant city manager.”

In addition to the 5 percent increase, Mr. Ramos received a 1.5 percent increase as a result of last month’s approved memorandum of understanding. According to those agreements, Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) were increased 1.5 percent to offset the PERS contributions that are now paid by the employees instead of the city. City employees will receive an additional 1.5 increase beginning July 1, 2012 and another 1.5 percent increase on July 1, 2013.

Upon hiring, each individual employee is given a salary range, and is eligible every year to move from their initial step 1 if they receive a review that is satisfactory or above and beyond job requirements, according to Parker. The average merit increase is 4 to 5 percent, but largely depends on a company’s personal policies regarding those increases.

All employees are eligible for annual merit increases after their yearly performance review, with pay raises granted by the head of the department. A merit increase is dependent on the employee’s work performance and can be given on top of the standard raise.

“It’s the standard process for all our employees from our maintenance workers up through the police department, and all the way through department head,” Mr. Parker said.

Mr. Parker is given sole responsibility for merit increases to executive employees, like Mr. Ramos and Mr. Cooper. City Council approval is not needed. Council Member Opanyi Nasiali said that he did not know about the increase until contacted by the COURIER, but was not concerned with the changes.

“They are obviously carrying a bigger load, having to do more than others,” Mr. Nasiali said, adding that his stand on “living within our means” still remains. “My position hasn’t changed, but I am also aware that we have to compensate our employees for a job well done.”

Mr. Ramos received the increase because of the extra workload he managed after the city was left without a community services director this past year, according to Mr. Parker.

“For most of the year he took over those responsibilities, even though it was not in his job description,” Mr. Parker said, adding that Mr. Cooper was awarded the increase for managing the police department over the past year without any managers or captains. “They went above the standard.”

Mr. Ramos made a reported $174,664 in 2009, down from a former salary of $192,143 in 2008, according to previous information gathered by the COURIER. Mr. Ramos last received a merit increase in July 2006, shortly after he started with the city of Claremont in February, according to city documents. His salary has been adjusted several times over the years, including a 6 percent range adjustment from 12,748.37 to $13,534.59 in January 2007.

According to city documents, Mr. Cooper last received a merit increase in July 2009, from about $14,370.30 to about $14,805.73. He also received a merit increase in July 2008, going from his previous monthly salary of about $13,672 to about $14,370. Increases in pay since that time are unknown. Mr. Cooper has worked as Claremont’s chief of police since 2007, and has been employed by the city of Claremont since April 1985.

No other city employees received a merit increase at this time, according to Mr. Parker.

—Beth Hartnett

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