Oklahoma City has been the beneficiary of booming recent economic times, and city employees will see that reflected in their paychecks.
Nonunion city employees were granted a cost-of-living raise of 3.61 percent for the upcoming calendar year, city officials said. Last year was the first time the employees got such raises after a two-year pause caused by the economic recession.
Since then, conditions have improved in Oklahoma City at a far faster pace than the rest of the country, and city sales tax receipts continue to come in much higher than projected.
In addition to the cost-of-living raises, employees who qualify are eligible for merit-based raises. The city council voted unanimously Tuesday to grant additional 3-percent step raises to the three employees who report directly to council members.
“This will put them very near the market rate of our peer cities, (and) in most cases, between 1 and 2 percent above them,” Mayor Mick Cornett said.
City Manager Jim Couch's 2013 salary will be $229,407.43, plus a benefits package and a $7,000 annual vehicle allowance, according to city records.
City Attorney Kenneth Jordan's salary will be $173,779.57, plus benefits and a $7,000 vehicle allowance. City Auditor Jim Williamson's salary will be $141,618.08, plus benefits and a $3,000 vehicle allowance.
Couch, essentially the CEO of an organization with a nearly $1 billion annual budget, is among the best-paid public officials in Oklahoma, excluding state university athletics coaches and other high-profile positions. He is paid more than any Tulsa city employee and Gov. Mary Fallin, who earns $147,000 annually.
Oklahoma City is enjoying a string of nearly uninterrupted success and momentum dating to the early 1990s, which preceded Couch assuming his current position in 2000 and has continued since then.