City worker’s raise, promotion should leave residents, council asking, ‘Why?’ - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

City worker’s raise, promotion should leave residents, council asking, ‘Why?’

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Posted: Tuesday, June 19, 2007 6:38 am | Updated: 7:04 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Raun Keagy has been a devoted Scottsdale city employee for many years, and in his capacity supervising its Code Enforcement Division it could be argued that he deserves a few extra bucks in his pay envelope for being the city’s front man in dealing with the harangues of zoning activist Henry Becker.

But a few bucks is a far cry from a 21 percent raise, given the division’s significant criticism from the City Auditor’s Office less than five months earlier.

The issue is timing. That Keagy, city neighborhood services director, received such a generous pay increase, to $117,000 a year, plus a promotion to assistant general manager and new monthly car allowance last month, is worth questioning. A January internal city audit found the Code Enforcement Division to have 25 operational faults.

As the Tribune’s Brian Powell reported Thursday, those faults included not having proper controls in place to oversee citations and hearings, while not all inspectors met required job descriptions. Other findings included files that could not be located and no checkout procedure to control access to files, an administrative hearing officer who appeared to have made decisions that were not based on state laws or the City Code, uncollected daily fines and penalties and differences among inspectors over how violations on a property were counted.

Keagy’s compensation package is an excellent example of why city officials’ performance evaluations are public records, although Scottsdale fights vigorously to keep them secret. The public knows about the January audit’s criticisms of Keagy’s division, but it does not know about any mitigating factors or improvement that might justify a raise or promotion that likely would be documented in his employee review.

Perhaps something in that evaluation will explain why Keagy’s superiors gave him such a hefty pay upgrade, an increase many private sector workers didn’t get this year, certainly not many of those whose departments received the marks that the Code Enforcement Division did in that audit.

In January, Powell reported Keagy saying the department had set an vigorous schedule to correct the problems detailed by the audit and that some revisions were already under way. Last week, Keagy told Powell in an e-mail that he is to make a presentation about changes to the council in July.

Keagy is a dedicated veteran worker and it is reasonable to predict that the changes he is to propose might well clear up all the audit’s concerns. But city officials, dealing with rather vocal taxpayer and City Council criticism of the amount of across-the-board employee pay raises given this year, should have waited until those changes were unveiled, then implemented, to decide on Keagy’s more-than-generous compensation and promotion.

At the very least, they should have outlined their specific reasons for these actions.

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