Shrewd move to assure boost
COLUMBIA, Mo 12/5/15 (Beat Byte) -- A ten percent, $15,000 salary boost for Columbia city manager Mike Matthes is set for automatic approval Monday night.
Matthes, who controls the Council's bi-weekly meeting agenda, placed his raise on the "consent" portion: items subject to an up or down vote without Council or public comment. Under the plan, he will receive a base salary boost from $150,000 to $165,000 annually.
Retired City of Columbia public works supervisor Bill Weitkemper has formally requested a public hearing, asking Mayor Bob McDavid to squelch the automatic consent and "send me a copy of the evaluation form used to evaluate the city manager's performance."
Made public in past years, Matthes' 2015 Council evaluation has remained a mystery.
Word of the big raise set off a firestorm in virtually all parts of the community: liberal, conservative, private sector, public sector, retired, working, black, white, male, female.
"This is disgusting," Mark Wiehe wrote. "What justification is there for this outlandish raise?"
"Until he can agree to a labor contract with public works workers, he doesn't deserve 10%," said Laborers International Union of North America rep Regina Guevara. "Maybe 10 cents."
Others compared their comparatively paltry pay increases. "Wow, I only got a 3% raise. Nice that the city has so much money to be handing out a 10% raise," Stephan Craig explained.
One of the most unpopular city managers in Columbia history, Matthes has become known for using dishonesty to push special breaks for special interests.
He publicly lied about downtown infrastructure to justify a so-called Tax Increment Financing, or TIF district that would cut taxes for commercial property owners and developers. Columbia "has no more" sewer, electric, or water capacity, and "there can be no more development downtown" until the TIF was in place to finance infrastructure, Matthes claimed.
At the same time, Matthes violated city ordinance to arrange three "special" City Council meetings that approved a trio of downtown student apartments. The developers -- Opus, American Campus Communities, and Campus Housing Partners -- will build over 1,000 new units, despite Matthes' dire pronouncements.
Despite the controversies, the City Council never questions Matthes nor his decisions -- at least, not publicly. Some believe Council members support the pay hike because they approve of the city manager's tactics.
"He apparently is doing EXACTLY what the Columbia City Council wants him to do, thus the 10% raise," Alan Anderson explained on the Heart Beat Facebook page. "Who do you really have a problem with? The city manager or the City Council?"