GRU head gets 4% raise, not $94,000
Published: Wednesday, January 29, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 29, 2003 at 12:23 a.m.
Mike Kurtz, general manager for Gainesville Regional Utilities, received a $6,236 raise late Monday night, after asking last week for a $94,000 salary increase.
The increase will raise Kurtz's salary from $155,907 to $162,143. Kurtz had requested the city begin paying him $250,000 and enter him into the city's pension plan.
He said during his annual job review last week that he was making about 50 percent less than someone at a public utility of similar size could expect to earn.
The Gainesville City Commission voted 3-2 Monday to approve the raise. Commissioners Tony Domenech and Ed Braddy voted against it, saying Kurtz should have received more than a 4 percent raise.
Commissioner Warren Nielsen said the 4 percent raise was a "courtesy" while the city's Personnel and Organizational Structure Committee researches what other chief officers at other utilities earn. The committee then will give its recommendations on Kurtz's salary to the commission.
Kurtz declined to comment on the matter Tuesday, saying it was the commission's decision to set his salary. As for future plans, he said he wants to stay in Gainesville.
"I have enjoyed being here more than 28 years, and I would like to retire here," he said.
Kurtz told the commission last week he has rejected two "serious" job offers in the past year that came with salaries of $258,000 and $236,000.
Domenech said Tuesday that Kurtz deserves a higher raise for the work he has done.
"He is paid in the 25th percentile right now of like positions in America in public power companies," he said. "We arguably have one the 10 best public power utilities in the country."
Braddy said Kurtz should be making a "competitive" salary compared with other municipal governments, but a $94,000 raise would be too much.
Other commissioners could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Sanford Berg, director of the University of Florida's Public Utility Research Center, said it would be "a shame" for GRU to lose Kurtz over a salary dispute.
"Just a 4 percent raise, compared to what he was seeking, strikes me as a bit of a dangerous gambit by the city," he said.
Berg said GRU is respected among utilities and that Kurtz, who served as chairman of the American Public Power Association from 2000-2001, is respected among his peers.
"For him to become the president of that organization, tells me he is highly recognized within that field as a spokesperson for the industry," he said.
Ashley Rowland can be reached at 374-5095 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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