Kansas Watchdog – $472,000 in Bonuses in 2009 for City Workers in Overland Park

Link: http://watchdog.org/36611/ks-2010-03-19-472000-in-bonuses-in-2009-for-city-workers-in-overland-park/


$472,000 in Bonuses in 2009 for City Workers in Overland Park

By   /   March 19, 2010  /   4 Comments

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[Editor’s Note:  This is the first of two articles from recent discussions with Overland Park City Manager John Nachbar. The second article will address Overland Park budget reductions of $140 million over the next 5 years.  Also see related Tables and Statistical Charts.]

Bonuses paid to City of Overland Park workers totaled nearly $472,000 in 2009, but according to Overland Park City Manager John Nachbar bonuses will be “dramatically less” in 2010.

The $472,000 in bonuses would work out to a tax of almost $5 for each of the 96,000 workers in Overland Park.

“Maybe we should have a different name for what we call ‘bonuses’,” Nachbar said. “Any time we have a one-time, non-recurring payment to an employee we call it a bonus.”

Many non-management employees who were at the top of their pay scales received bonuses instead of any salary increase last year.

According to Nachbar about 50 percent of the police and 75 percent of the fire department were “topped out” for salary increases, but received a total of $204,800 in bonuses instead. These bonuses were limited to 1 percent of base salary. [For details see Compensation for All City of Overland Park Employees in 2009: Base Salary, Overtime, Bonus.]

The second largest bonus category was a separate incentive program for senior management, which included the city manager and key staff, such as department heads. These performance bonuses totaled $155,500.

Bonuses were paid to lifeguards in the city’s aquatics program as an incentive to work through the end of the pool season. These bonuses amounted to almost $53,000.

About $41,000 in bonuses was spread among four other programs. Nachbar provided this summary of the different bonuses paid last year:


Summary of “Bonus” Payments in 2009 by City of Overland Park 

[Source: Overland Park City Manager, John Nachbar]

Summary of Various “Bonus” Payments in 2009, City of Overland Park, KS –

“I will acknowledge we pay employees well here.” And part of the strategy is to attract better employees. He said with a lean organization and high-service demands from the population, “we try to maintain some esprit de corps.” 

Nachbar explained the city’s “market point” for the center of the pay scale for non-management employees is set at 105% of market survey rates to attract the best employees possible. However, with raises a worker’s salary is capped at 120% of the market rate.

At the beginning of 2009, Overland Park had a pool of 3.5 percent for salary increases, but that was later cut in half according to Nachbar. The average non-management employee in 2009 received a 1.75 percent increase. For employees at the top of their range, who were not eligible for a salary increase, many were granted a 1 percent “performance bonus” instead.


wordle.net “word cloud” of City of Overland Park Job Titles 


wordle.net "word cloud" of City of Overland Park job titles
Click to enlarge

“The top managers of this organization have their compensation frozen at 2008 levels.” 

Nachbar explained senior managers have a separate incentive program. That program for about 35 to 40 people affects all department directors, some division heads and some other key staff positions.

The salary for these senior managers is capped at the 105 percent market point used as the average target for non-management salaries. A senior manager’s pay often is “capped out” in four to five years at this 105 percent point according to Nachbar.

“We call it a bonus, and maybe that’s the wrong term, but the people in senior management are eligible for an additional payment annually” that averages $7,000 to $8,000 a year. This bonus “is meant to be an incentive.” Nachbar added, “it’s uncommon not to receive it since you’re expected to perform well, and there’s a lot of pressure.”

“The higher levels are actually suffering more than the lower” according to Nachbar. In 2009 the senior managers were frozen out of any salary increases. While the average employee received a 1.75 percent increase, senior managers received no increase but were eligible for the annual senior management bonus based on their performance.

“Everyone’s compensation is frozen in 2010,” according to Nachbar. For senior managers it will be two years in a row where their compensation is frozen.

Summary slide about salaries 

from Overland Park City Manager John Nachbar’s Powerpoint presentation

about $140 Million in reductions to be implemented in the next five years.

“It’s also really critical to have the workforce that’s still here to feel like it’s being treated reasonably” 

“If we damage the esprit de corps here any more it’s not going to be healthy. Overland Park has had a superlative organization.” According to Nachbar the restrictions on compensation here are unprecedented in the city’s history since there have never been layoffs before. “We’re going through cultural change.”

The mayor and elected city council members receive only a base salary and did not receive any bonus payment. The mayor’s salary is $24,000 a year while each council member receives $12,000. The detailed summary shows the president of the council receives about $1,700 more.

The mayor and 12 members of the city council were asked for comments by E-mail about the 2009 bonuses. The one reply was from Paul Lyons, Ward 2:

I fully support Mr. Nachbar as the city manager of Overland Park. He has done an exceptional job managing the city’s financial situation, as demonstrated by the city maintaining a triple-A bond rating compared to problems many other cities around us are having. I am comfortable with the way he manages his staff including bonus eligibility and payment.

This analysis did not look at deferred compensation.

The tables and statistical charts provide greater insight into the salaries, overtime and bonuses paid in Overland Park in 2009.

See the second article about $140 million in Overland Park budget reductions over the next 5 years (link will be put here).

Additional Information 


Statistical Charts


Contact: Earl F Glynn, earl@kansaswatchdog.orgKansasWatchdog.org 

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Earl Glynn