The highly contentious issue of pay cuts for city employees resurfaced today.
It happened during a debate over the strong-mayor proposal when an audience member asked former Colorado Springs City Manager Lorne Kramer to weigh in on the subject.
Kramer’s response raised eyebrows.
“I’m going to go out on a limb here because I think that was a big mistake,” Kramer said.
“In fact, I talked to some people in the administration two years ago and highly recommended that they take a 10 percent across-the-board cut in pay, very similar to what in fact is happening out in the real world. And in fact, that would have saved a lot of jobs that would … have translated into providing additional services that we’re not having now,” he said.
“But I will say, that’s not a systems problem (with the existing council-manager form of government) because in fact, all that the City Council had to say to the city manager is, ‘Mr. City Manager or Ms. City Manager, go back and bring us a budget with a 10 percent cut in pay.’
And to be really honest, nobody wanted to take on public safety,” Kramer said.
Kramer, who also served as the city’s police chief, said he would “have been in the organization convincing them why … they needed to do that.”
In an interview afterward, Kramer said people in the administration asked him for advice, but it would be inappropriate to “mention any names.”
“I wasn’t that far out of the city manager’s job at the time,” he said.
“I was called for some ideas about certain things, and I made a recommendation to them that a cut in pay across the board would have not only played very well with the community but seemed to me the right thing to do,” he said.
“Nobody supports our city employees more than I do,” he added. “But everybody is suffering. The community is suffering.”
Kramer said the pay cuts would have saved jobs and that his objective wasn’t to be “punitive” toward city employees.
“I was told at the time that there was no way the administration or the council was going to entertain that,” he said.