The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 6, 2012

Benson rehired, gets a raise

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — City Manager Eric Benson’s contract was renewed for another year, following an executive session Tuesday night during the Enid City Commission meeting.

Benson received a 4 percent salary increase, the only change from his previous year contract, said City Attorney Andrea Springer.

His previous salary was $130,000, and the 4 percent increase would raise it to $135,200 annually. The salary increase was the same percentage other city employees received, not counting bonuses. Benson, who receives no bonus, opted out of a performance incentive last year. He will be re-evaluated in December 2013. Last year’s evaluation was in January.

Benson received his five-year pin for employment during Tuesday’s city commission meeting, but actually is completing his sixth year with the city. His original contract was $100,000.

Benson is hired by the city commission and is answerable to commissioners. All other employees, except the city attorney, are hired by Benson and answer to him. The city attorney also is hired by the city commission.

A survey earlier this year of city manager salaries among cities of similar size to Enid, showed the average salary was $124,000, but Benson is not the highest paid.

Benson’s tenure has seen controversy at times. Enid Renaissance Project, which is nearly completed, faced lawsuits, and Benson was criticized for going ahead after a citywide vote rejected a similar proposal.

Benson said Wednesday positive change is hard to bring about.

“I think that’s common everywhere. If you look at any metro area, for reduction of costs, injuries to employees, safety program and morale, none are any better than Enid,” Benson said.

He said he takes pride in the progress made in employee morale and his relationship with city employees.

“Employee morale is the single biggest determiner of employee efficiency,” he said. “I take great pride in having relationships with employee groups, and the employees individually. I told them I have a personal and professional obligation to them. We have established a level of confidence and trust that goes both directions.”