Ketchum’s new department heads get pay
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
As Ketchum hired a full compliment of new
department leaders last year, the salaries the city pays those honchos jumped by
between $15,000 and $25,000 per position.
In replacing veteran employees like
25-year police chief Cal Nevland and 20-year city administrator Jim Jaquet, the
salary boost was necessary to compensate for a rising real estate market, said
City Administrator Ron LeBlanc.
"Jim (Jaquet) bought his house for
$40,000. I bought mine for $500,000," LeBlanc said. "The underlying factor here
is the cost of housing."
LeBlanc said the city is also working to
pull salaries back into a range that is competitive with other resort towns.
According to a Colorado salary review called the 2002 Management Compensation
Report, compiled by the Colorado Municipal League, Ketchum’s new department head
salaries are on target with Colorado’s resort cities.
Among Breckenridge, Telluride, Aspen and
Vail, city administrators average almost $110,000 per year, before benefits.
Ketchum’s new city administrator is making about $100,000, a $15,000 per year
jump over his predecessor.
Ketchum’s new planning administrator will
make $75,000 per year, while her predecessor made about $60,000. The city’s new
police chief is making $85,000, a $20,000 boost over his predecessor.
LeBlanc, who has made a career of working
in city administration, said it is common to pay new department heads more
"The turnover here has been legitimate,
and when you have that turnover, it really crushes your salaries," he said.
What’s more, Ketchum has undertaken a
study of 22 cities throughout the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific Northwest to
determine the fairest salaries to pay all of its employees.
Some of the cities to be surveyed include
Hailey, Sun Valley and McCall in Idaho; Ashland, Ore.; Jackson, Wyo.; and Aspen,
Gunnison, Estes Park and Durango in Colorado.
The results of the survey should be
completed in April, LeBlanc said, and incumbent employees’ salaries should be
According to a 2001 economic analysis of
Blaine County, salaries throughout the 1990s did not keep pace with housing.
Between 1990 and 1999, average earnings
per job in Blaine County grew about 4.8 percent per year. During the same time
period, the average sales price of single-family homes in Blaine County grew by
8 percent to 9 percent per year.
"The average sales price of single-family
homes in Sun Valley-Ketchum increased from 24 times average annual earnings in
1992 to 35 times average annual earnings in 2000," the report stated.