2 Middletown council members explain vote against $25,000 raise

City manager Adkins gets support from all members, but two said increase was too much at one time.

The 20-percent pay increase, to $150,000 from $125,000, is to be followed by raises of $5,000 each of the next three Julys, unless his employment agreement is terminated. During the term of its agreement, the city also will pay an amount equal to 2 percent of Adkins’ base salary into the Ohio Public Employees Deferred Compensation Program.

Vice Mayor Dora Bronston and Councilman Steve Bohannon said they are pleased with Adkins’ performance in his first two years — Bohannon took office this year — but they voted against the $25,000 raise. Mayor Larry Mulligan Jr. and council members Dan Picard and Talbott Moon voted for the increase.

“We feel he’s doing a fantastic job,” Bohannon said. “We love Doug; we think he’s the best thing that’s happened in Middletown. This strictly came down to a dollars-and-cents thing for us.”

Adkins declined to comment.

Bohannon said he heard from 27 people about Adkins’ proposed raise: 23 of them were against, four favored it.

Bronston, who has worked as a purchasing agent, said she didn’t feel the council had enough time to evaluate Adkins before the decision was made on the raise.

“When I negotiate, there’s time. You get the facts, you get the figures, you look at the requirements. Does he do his job? Yes, he’s doing his job, according to the charter,” Bronston said. “Is his job so extra-exceptional after two years to warrant $25,000…? No, it’s not.”

Both Bronston and Bohannon said they were willing to pay Adkins the same additional $40,000 in raises he is to receive over the next four years — but more gradually, with more of the raises toward the end of that period.

Bohannon and Bronston declined to discuss publicly the amounts they would have been agreeable to paying year by year.

Before Tuesday’s vote, Mulligan said, “I’d just like to commend Mr. Adkins on the work he’s done. I appreciate his dedication to the city and certainly wish him well as we move forward.”

“We don’t want to lose Doug, but this is a business,” Bohannon said. “And in business, you lose people. We are the boss, we are the one that sets the rules for Doug and a couple other people….. Once we got feedback from the citizens of Middletown, I came up with another scenario.”

Bohannon said when he looked at pay of city managers between Cincinnati and Dayton, including both those cities, the average pay was about $157,000, including the pay rates in Cincinnati and Dayton.

“Mr. Adkins wanted to feel he was part of the middle of the crowd,” Bohannon said. “That’s I think where the $25,000 came in because that put him right in that pack where he wanted to be.”

Bronston said quality of life, city finances and Middletown’s downtown are improving, but that’s partly because of a better economy and the work of a variety of people.

“I still want to be a good steward for the money,” Bronston said. “With a person who’s worked here for two years’ experience as a city manager — and I know he wants to be comparable to the other city managers, salary-wise — but in comparison, he has two years’ experience, and you can’t compare that to someone with seven years, 10 years, five years.”