News

City manager and other employees will work for performance pay

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

City manager David Moseley and other Federal Way employees receive a portion of their salary based on performance.

City Council members say the $9,000 “performance pay” Moseley got for 2004 was a wise investment. Compared to other municipal administrators around the state in larger cities, his monthly salary is below the average.

Unlike many governments which pay their employees a yearly salary regardless of circumstances, Federal Way reviews some employees’ performances at the end of each year. How well they have accomplished tasks they are assigned at the beginning of the year determines how much performance pay they receive.

Moseley, city manager since 1999, will receive the $9,000 in February for his work last year. Like other city employees that get performance pay, Moseley has a performance review at the end of the year with his bosses –– the seven council members. They determine how much performance pay he should receive. Other employees have their performance pay determined by their supervisors.

There was a maximum of $9,858 Moseley could have been paid. That is almost 8.5 percent of his $116,245 base salary for 2004.

The council has approved Moseley’s 2005 base salary at $117,605, of which $9,973 is performance pay.

Performance pay is a relatively new compensation method for public employees, and it’s mostly younger cities using it, said Iwen Wang, Federal Way’s management services director. Federal Way made it part of the compensation plan when the city incorporated in 1990. Older communities have a hard time implementing the system over the objections of employees and their unions, she said.

It’s not a bonus, Wang said, but a part of the employee’s base salary.

In the private sector, an employee is paid a base salary and a bonus on top of that commensurate to the work they have accomplished.

State law doesn’t allow public employees to collect bonuses.

Performance pay is only for employees who have advanced near the top of their position’s pay-scale, Wang said.

So, an employee hired at a gross annual salary of $45,000 could make $42,000 one year if they don’t earn all their performance pay. The next year, they might get all $45,000 because they met their goals and assignments.

For Federal Way, those goals and tasks are organized based on the city’s plans and projects for that year. The employee’s role in those plans and their goals are figured. At the end of the year, the employee and their supervisor determine if those goals were met.

While it addresses the complaint that public employees earn a salary regardless of their work, performance pay also has drawbacks. The larger a government becomes, the harder it is to make sure the program is used equally by all supervisors, Wang said.

“I do believe it’s a very good program,” she added.

Mayor Dean McColgan said the flexibility of performance pay is good, but the council has asked each year whether the current method or a traditional salary system is best.

Councilman Eric Faison said he worries performance pay is applied too liberally and might hurt the city’s recruiting opportunities. But McColgan said he hasn’t heard of anyone not applying for a city job because of the performance pay program.

As for Moseley getting $9,000 in performance pay, which was formally approved at a council meeting Tuesday, council members said it’s money well-spent.

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