PTLS renews town manager's contract

Serving as PTLS Town Manager since 2015, Keith Johnson is currently in the middle of his second, three year contract which expires in July 2022. Council approved a 5% increase for Johnson at the Sept. 19 council meeting.

PINETOP-LAKESIDE — Following the Sept. 19 council approval of the $2 premium increase for all town employees deemed as essential workers, another agenda item requested a 5% increase for Town Manager Keith Johnson which was unanimously approved.

Johnson stated that council recently completed his performance evaluation. That was done in executive session on Aug. 19. Johnson said his current contract expires in July 2022 and his request was for a 5% hourly increase.

Johnson said he should have given that agenda item to Finance Director/Assistant Town Manager Kevin Rodolph.

“I do not mind asking for other people,” said Johnson, “but it’s hard when it is for me.”

Surprised that the request asked for a per hour increase, Councilor Lynn Krigbaum, stated, “I did not understand that the town manager was an hourly employee. I thought that the 5% was on his whole salary which I think is appropriate, but the motion does not say hourly.”

“That’s a good point,” said Johnson. “When we fill out our personal action forms, we break it down to an hourly rate, and so that’s what was in my mind. It equals the same thing. When all of us that are exempt employees receive our pay stubs, it shows that we have 80 hours at whatever dollar amount that hourly rate is.”

Mayor Stephanie Irwin commented that she knows that Johnson works more than 80 hours.

Councilor Sterling Beus asked Johnson if he would also receive the $2 increase the other employees will receive on top of the 5% increase, and Johnson confirmed that he will.

Johnson had advised the council on Sept. 16 that, according to the definition provided by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), all of PTLS’s town employees qualify as essential workers because they regularly performed in person work, not remotely, and either interacted with others at work or physically handled items handled by others in order to protect the health and well being of residents.

Beus also asked Johnson when they were considering the $2 increase who the lowest paid person was for the town. Johnson had replied that he wasn’t sure, but thought it was in the public works department where the starting pay rate is $13.65 per hour. He added that after one year, providing the employee in that position got their CDL, there pay would increase by $1.

Now with the $2 premium increase the starting rate for that employee will be $15.65, making the lowest paid town employee the part time employees in the Visitor Center who, with the increase, now makes $15 per hour.

According to Rodolph, the highest paid employee is the town manager. His pay was $106,000 before the 5% increase which brought it to $112,000, and with the $2.00 per hour premium increase his pay is $116,000 per year. Rodolph named himself as a close second at $114,000 per year.

The $2 per hour premium increase which council approved for all essential employees comes from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Responsibility Funds which were established by the ARPA. The increase was approved to begin Sept. 19.

The 5% increase for Johnson comes from the town’s General Fund which is all of the town’s operating revenue from the state’s Transaction Privilege Tax (TPT), more commonly known by some as sales tax.

Johnson is an Arizona native who spent his summers growing up at his grandparents' cabin near Woodland Lake and is now a resident of Show Low. He  was selected as town manager in June 2015. He is currently in the middle of his second, three year contract with the town.

Reach the reporter at bbruce@wmicentral.com

Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering arts and entertainment on the Mountain and the Pinetop-Lakeside town government.

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