In a five-to-two vote, Newport City Council approved a $5,000, or 3.7 percent, salary increase for Newport City Manager Jane Howington during last week’s City Council meeting.
Councilors Jeanne-Marie Napolitano and Michael Farley voted against the contract amendment proposed by Mayor Harry Winthrop, which increased Howington's salary to $140,000, effective July 1. This is the first salary review since her contract was signed on Jan. 9, 2012.
Farley said one reason he would not support the amendment was that “the Newport city manager base salary is one of the three highest city manager salaries in the state and is 40 percent higher than the state average.”
Winthrop argued it is not an “apples-to-apples comparison,” because the Newport City Manager is responsible for the water and sewer utility, unlike other communities.
Farley said he “respectfully disagrees" and that "half the communities in Rhode Island" have a similar water utility. He added, “We also have a water official who is the third highest paid water official in the state.”
“The city manager has a salary," said Councilman Justin McLaughlin. "She does not receive overtime. She does not receive step increases. She is not a member of a retirement program. She is not a member of a union and guaranteed to be here with the rest of her life,” he said.
Napolitano said while she believes the city manager should be well compensated, the raise was too high. “Three-point-eight percent after we gave our department heads 1.8 this past June is a bit excessive, after one-and-a-half years,” she said. “You have a contract. In your contract it states you are paid x amount of dollars for the duration of the contract.”
If you were on council, how would you vote and why? Tell us in the comments section below!