At the council’s regular meeting Aug. 11, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Davant made a motion to rescind Looney’s raise, which put him at $162,000, and additional vacation time. Councilor Ron Munos supported the measure. Both councilors had voted for the raise when it was approved 7-0 during a special meeting Aug. 4.
However, the Aug. 11 motion failed 5-2 with Mayor Carl Brugger and councilors Libby Edwards, Steve Hougen, Bruce Jones, and Will Skinner voting nay.
The City Council had voted for the raise after reviewing a report from Public Sector Personnel Consultants, which researched city employee salaries across Central Texas and Burnet County for comparison. The Texas Municipal League, which advocates on behalf of and provides resources to cities, recommended the firm to Granite Shoals officials.
Mayor Brugger said the council looked at employee pay in similar municipalities in the report, including Marble Falls, Burnet, and Horseshoe Bay.
Looney, who was hired in September 2018, made $125,000 a year prior to the Aug. 4 raise. The report recommended a salary range of $144,000 to $195,000 for the position of Granite Shoals city manager. Looney’s new salary of $162,000 puts him below the midpoint of $170,000.
OTHER LOCAL CITY MANAGER SALARIES
Mike Hodge, Marble Falls — $170,000
David Vaughn, Burnet — $164,819
Stan Farmer, Horseshoe Bay — $158,186
The Granite Shoals City Council met for a little more than two hours in executive session Aug. 11 to discuss Looney’s raise. Along with the pay increase, the council also approved four weeks of annual vacation time, up from less than two weeks that Looney had previously accrued.
The council’s vote for the raise faced pushback by residents on social media and via direct communications.
Before Mayor Brugger called for a roll call vote on the motion Aug. 11, some councilors expressed their views on the matter. Munos said his desire to rescind the raise had nothing to do with Looney’s job performance.
“Jeff, I’m pleased with you,” Munos said. “With the pandemic, it’s just not the right time. It’s not that I don’t believe you don’t deserve the raise, it’s not the right time.”
The mayor had concerns about COVID-19’s effect on the community, but he also noted that the city has come a long way the past two years under Looney’s guidance.
“I think we can find what we consider fair compensation,” he added.
Councilor Libby Edwards stuck by her Aug. 4 vote, adding that the council might need to work harder to inform residents about why they arrived at the decision.
“I am going to take the stance of integrity,” Edwards said. “I am a person of my word. We made a conscientious vote based on the information given. We have not done a great job of educating our citizens; we have not done a good job of moving forward. That’s the change I will make.”
Hougen noted the $37,000 pay raise is an investment in the city, adding that he also read emails from residents who made valid points against the raise.
“We made the vote,” Hougen said. “If we were misinformed or didn’t have all the information, that’s on us. I feel we need to leave the decision as it was last week. The City Council needs to live with that decision.”
The salary survey conducted by Public Sector Personnel Consultants was an action recommended by Marvin Townsend, interim city manager prior to Looney’s arrival. Along with the city manager’s salary, the report reviewed salaries and compensation for 14 other job titles.