LaVerkin City Council at odds over increase in city administrator’s salary

The LaVerkin City Council discusses agenda items at its City Council Meeting in the LaVerkin City Office, Sept. 21, 2016 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

LAVERKIN – The discussion was hottest at the end of the LaVerkin City Council Meeting on Wednesday evening as the mayor, council members and the city attorney wrangled over a $9,000 annual pay increase for City Administrator Kyle Gubler, Mayor Kerry Gubler’s nephew.

Councilor Randy Reeve brought it up, requesting a study be done to compare Kyle Gubler’s compensation with other city administrators in the region.

After Reeve brought it up, Councilor Ken Hooten said all the other council members signed off on the pay increase except for Reeve and that they decided on the pay increase because Gubler’s pay was not equal to other city administrators in southwestern Utah.

Councilor Chantelle Browning asked if the council should have made that call in an open meeting, to which Mayor Gubler said “yes.”

City Attorney Kevin Bennett said the council could only discuss the matter in a closed meeting if it was about job performance but not for a pay increase.

In truth, Browning said, she felt all city staff members should get a raise because they are underpaid compared to other cities in the area.

Reeve opposed the large pay increase on the grounds of the position itself, he said, not on Kyle Gubler’s performance. Reeve said he agreed with Browning that everyone at the city is underpaid and feels it is rude to give one person a huge increase.

Councilor Micah Gubler said pay increases for city employees is the work of department heads, not the City Council.

“I don’t agree with looking at everyone, that’s not my job,” Micah Gubler said.

Kyle Gubler mentioned that information on the compensation of municipal staff throughout the State of Utah is available on the Utah’s Right To Know website, but Reeve said the website’s information is out of date.

Hooten said the city already has salary ranges for each position on the books and that a range change would require City Council approval.

Bennett said raises for city staff members are usually done annually during the budget process; otherwise, the mayor “reads it to you.”

In the end, and on the advice of Bennett, Mayor Gubler said the matter would be on the next meeting agenda so the council could ratify the pay increase and justify it with data on the compensation of other city administrators in the region.

Other business

Joanne Lyman of the Five County Association of Governments came seeking the city’s support for Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions, two programs her organization administers. She said much of the funding comes from federal grants, county funds and in-kind donations from organizations such as United Way but that they need some community support to keep the program going.

“They’re great programs for volunteers and seniors,” she said.

Mayor Gubler said the council would consider supporting the cause.

The City Council also heard a presentation from Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh and Jack Burns, chief of concessionaires and partnerships, about Zion’s challenges with increased overcrowding and the drafting of a Visitor Use Management Plan.

Read more: Zion National Park traffic jam: A closer look at the overcrowding problem

The council approved a revision of the preliminary and final plats for a lot split located directly south of Davis Farmers Market. Kyle Gubler said there is the possibility that a hotel would be constructed on one of the lots.

Lastly, the council authorized Kyle Gubler to negotiate conditions for Community Impact Board funding for the 300 West Road Project. The city is hoping to get a 20-year loan to go along with the grants it has received for the project, which will cost approximately $447,000. Kyle Gubler said he is hoping to get a 20-year loan but explained to the council that, if necessary, there is a 30-year loan option they could fall back on.

Staff and Council Reports

Hooten said culinary water is being added to Confluence Park and that the county is making a concerted effort to remove tumbleweeds there. He also said the county is also creating camping spots and a permit policy so residents will make more use of the park.

In LaVerkin Police Chief Benjamin Lee’s report, he said they’ve had an upsurge in parking problems, and the department has been down one officer for two months. Filling the position has been difficult due to the lack of qualified applicants, he said.

Browning, who is the council member over Mosquito Abatement, said they are still getting a lot of calls from residents complaining about mosquitoes. She said the best thing residents can do is spray themselves with bug spray. She also said that so far there have been no human cases of West Nile virus in the county and hopefully it stays that way.

Kyle Gubler reminded the council of the Movie in the Park Friday at 8 p.m. at Wanlass Park. The city will be showing “The Jungle Book.” Admission is free and concessions are available.

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  • old school September 23, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    Your kidding? The city administrator is the mayor’s nephew???? And are they seeking an increase so as to equal typical city administrator pay for all cities in the region, or typical pay for a city that size

  • Ron September 23, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    Let me get this straight….
    The City Mayors nephew, is the City Administrator of the same City????
    Can someone say “nepotism”??

  • ryan_g September 24, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    Look at what other city administrators make in other small cities in the region. La Verkin is getting their guy for a bargain if you ask me.

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