Crestwood Mayor Trying to Hire New City Administrator On a Tight Budget

Salary and perks for local head honchos can add up quickly.

When Crestwood Mayor Jeff Schlink ousted Roy Robinson in April for the top elected city post, the city's top staff administrator opted to move down a notch to director of Public Services.

Now, Schlink is tasked with hiring a new city administrator—a staffer responsible for carrying out the will of the elected officials and managing all the city employees.

Schlink said the economy and unemployment rate should work in the city's favor, when it comes to salaries and perks for the hire.

However, when the city administrator Jim Eckrich and now Director of Public Services dropped a notch in job description in April, he didn't lose much of anything in salary and perks.

Eckrich asked for his old job back as director of public services on the eve of former Mayor Robinson's departure. By a majority vote of aldermen, Eckrich kept his city car and usage deal, and earnings of over $90,000 a year, apparently just several thousand dollars less that his earnings as top administrator.

Eckrich started in 2008 at $92,000 according to newspaper accounts at the time.

Asked why he wanted to return to his old job, Eckrich, a civil engineer said: "It's best for everybody."

Schink thinks maybe it's not the best thing for the city. Now, anyone hired as top administrator would generally expect to earn more than those who report to the top spot.

So typically, that would raise the bar on starting salary and perks for a new top administrator.

Yet it's no secret that Crestwood is toiling under severe budget constraints with the loss of an estimated $2 million annually in sales tax from the nearly defunct mall—Crestwood Court.

Aldermen John Foote said last month in a public meeting that the city would fall into "decay" if things didn't turn around, describing how city staffing had been cut to the bone, and other savings squeezed out of operations.

City police say they have the smallest force in years. But top brass rarely has any crime incidents to report out to the public.

During a review by an outside audit last month of city finances, the city learned it was saddled with outstanding debt over pension funds for retired employees, because investments earnings were down.

Schlink said he and staff have winnowed out candidates for the top city post from hundreds to about 50. He intends to further reduce the field to perhaps 10 contenders, and begin phone interviews followed by in-person interviews.

A ballpark date for hiring may be September, if not later.

"The market being what it is, I'm sure we'll get someone qualified," Schlink said.

Then, the hire must go before the Board of Aldermen for approval.

Schlink's nominee to fill his vacant Ward 2 seat, Doug Mosby, was rejected out of hand by a board voting block of Aldermen Foote, Deb Beezley, Mimi Duncan and Chris Pickel who then nominated someone they supported—Steve Knarr.

Tom Ford July 02, 2011 at 02:57 PM
Well one simple answer to getting more funding to hire a new City Administrator would be to reduce the salary of the City Public Works Director to the level he himself recommended when searching for a new Public Works Director, that being $67,000.00. Rescind the take home car which is not needed for a Public Works Director, and the accompanying gas and maintenance costs, and we will have at least $28,000.00 more to find a City Administrator! Make sense? Yes it does, now lets see what the Board does with this recommendation. Tom Ford


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