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City Administrator Archambo gets 3-year deal that will take him to $150,000

March 5, 2014

For the first time in his eight years in Wauwatosa, City Administrator Jim Archambo is working with more than a one-year contract.

After a performance review process lasting several hours over two meetings, the Common Council approved this week a three-year contract for Archambo that will see his pay rise from $120,000 plus a $6,000 bonus for the previous year to $150,000 for the 2016 calendar year.

His pay will be set at $135,000 for the remainder of this year and increase to $142,500 next year.

Other features of his contract provide for four weeks of vacation and a $500 monthly car allowance.

Fear of loss

A fear of losing Archambo was a factor in the discussion over his compensation. A city consultant reportedly said that even at the new rate, the city administrator's pay is still 10 percent below market, according to Alderwoman Jill Organ.

Archambo, while not threatening to leave, did confirm that he had been invited to apply for a $160,000 job leading an unspecified government group.

He said in an interview that he is periodically recruited for various positions.

Organ said that in the consultant's opinion, replacing Archambo with an new, unknown city administrator would likely cost $150,000 in his or her first year — more than Archambo will be paid next year.

Benefits of a longer deal

Archambo said, after the vote, that a multiyear contract was important to him because it gives his family a level of security — he has two sons, ages 7 and 10 years old, and would like to keep them in the Wauwatosa schools — and because it provides continuity for the city. A tough budget ahead and full implementation of the city's new compensation structure were some of the challenges he cited.

"I like the challenge of this work," he said. "It's incredibly complex, but it's an opportunity to not only solve large municipal issues but also to serve the public in a way that's meaningful and affects and benefits citizens. I understand, too, that any time you're talking about the compensation of any employee, it's an investment. Like I would expect of any employee, I too will do what I can to make that investment ... pay dividends."

He said besides enjoying the work, he also likes the community.

Objections

Alderman Brian Ewerdt supported Archambo but spoke against the overall raise — 25 percent in three years — as high in a time of austerity in city government.

He called the contract unprecedented in his eight years as an alderman. "Nothing against Jim, I think he does an excellent job."

Ewerdt said that upon Archambo's arrival, he was paid more than he sought in his first year, and his pay has risen from $103,000 to $120,000 over his Wauwatosa career, with occasional bonuses.

"He's never been one about money; he doesn't seem to be asking for this," Ewerdt said. He criticized the deal as a "game-changer" and predicted it would set a precedent for future negotiations among top city staff.

Ewerdt and Alderman Tim Hanson cast the only dissenting votes.

Comparison to Ertl

Alderman Dennis McBride noted that two city department heads, who report to Archambo, are paid more than him and likened Archambo's job to that of school Superintendent Phil Ertl, both of them essentially chief operating officers. Ertl makes more than $163,000, McBride noted.

Archambo, who turned 45 on Tuesday, has a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and a master's in public administration from UW-Oshkosh. His first municipal administration job was a four-year stint at the city of Adams, followed by another four years at the Town of Menasha, before joining Wauwatosa in 2006.

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