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Assembly candidate Q&A: City employee compensation

Anchorage residents will vote on candidates for six open seats on the 11-member Anchorage Assembly in the April 1 municipal election. To give readers a better sense of who they'd be voting for, the Anchorage Daily News asked each of the 13 hopefuls a series of questions on their backgrounds and on key issues facing the city.

Answers by candidates to select questions will be published in daily editions of the Anchorage Daily News leading up to the election. Full responses to all questions can be found online: http://www.ADN.com/assembly.

Question for the Assembly candidates:

IN GENERAL, INCLUDING BENEFITS, DO YOU FEEL CITY WORKERS ARE OVER-COMPENSATED, UNDERCOMPENSATED OR COMPENSATED ABOUT RIGHT? WHAT GAUGE DO YOU USE TO MAKE THAT JUDGMENT?


EAST ANCHORAGE

Adam Trombley: The average municipal employee's total compensation is roughly $122,000 a year. They get compensated very well for the job they do.

Mao Tosi: Majority of city workers are under compensated but I would like to see a salary cap in place for the highest paid positions unless it can be justified why they make more than our mayor and ASD Superintendent.

Pete Petersen: Anchorage's employee pay is competitive with the private sector and other cities. Unfortunately, the 2005 change to the retirement system was a drastic benefit cut for new hires. This is a ticking time bomb which will lead to increased labor costs unless the Legislature reverses this disastrous decision.


SOUTH ANCHORAGE

Pete Nolan: We must take an impartial look at what we are spending and how to ensure that we can remain economically strong. The Budget Advisory Commission makes thoughtful decisions on these matters, and the Assembly should give them credence.

Bill Evans: It depends on the department. There are some glaring outliers where employees are overcompensated. Many, however, are within the proper range of compensation. The cost of health care increases must, however be more equitably borne.

Bruce Dougherty: Depends on the position. We are seriously lacking when it comes to teachers because, regardless of salary, it's unacceptable that unstable budgets result in layoff notices to the same teachers each year. We must offer competitive packages to get the best and brightest, and get them to stick around.


WEST ANCHORAGE

Phil Isley: Many old ones are over-compensated, new ones are probably under-compensated, but the newer ones will have to be under compensated to sustain the old retirement system. It is likely that we will be paying up to three people for each position.

Tim Steele: The fastest growing component of employee compensation is health care and we all deserve quality health coverage. We have options and we need to talk with our employee groups and find solutions. In terms of adequacy of compensation it is not for me to say without research.


EAGLE RIVER-CHUGIAK

Bill Starr: We provide benefits to MOA employees at rates higher than private sector employers. As an employer we pay 97% of health care premiums for our workforce, this exceeds private sector.

Sharon Gibbons: I think workers should be fairly compensated for their work. Monies paid to municipal workers help build our economy and Anchorage's middle class. Although the city has cut the number of workers, which looks good on paper, the city has increased the number of contractors which might not be a cost savings. .


MIDTOWN

Elvi Gray-Jackson: Most city workers are reasonably compensated. I am grateful our employees are represented by unions who work hard to maintain good pay and benefits for our hard working men and women. When employees make good wages, they spend money with businesses in the community, which strengthens our economy.


DOWNTOWN-MOUNTAIN VIEW

Patrick Flynn: Lower-level employees are generally paid better than their private sector peers, higher-level employees are generally paid worse than their private sector peers and mid-level employees are compensated at a roughly equal level. I base this on my experience in the business community as an employer who recruits talent.

Mark Martinson: Having worked in the city Personnel Dept. I think that generally government wages are comparable with the private sector when you consider job stability and benefits.


Anchorage Daily News / adn.com
Anchorage