NORTH MANKATO —
The list, compiled at the city’s request by the League of Minnesota Cities, showed an average salary for that group of $102,172. The 28 communities included metro area suburbs such as Robbinsdale and Vadnais Heights that tended to offer higher salaries, but it also contained low-population rural counties that generally paid their administrators substantially less.
Looking only at the 14 outstate cities with populations between 10,000 and 15,000 shows an average salary of $103,900 for city administrators, ranging from $85,951 in North Branch and $89,856 in St. Peter to $120,388 in Hutchinson and $125,486 in New Ulm. With North Mankato included, Harrenstein’s salary will rank fourth among the 15 outstate cities in that population group.
Along with the base salary, Harrenstein’s contract includes cash allowances for a car ($3,600 a year) and a cell phone ($780 annually) that will bring his annual income to $116,380. Sande had a car allowance of $4,800 but no cell phone allowance in his contract.
Spears, who had questioned the appropriateness of Sande’s car allowance prior to his Nov. 6 election to the council, asked why Harrenstein — whose contract also includes access to city vehicles — is receiving cash payments for vehicle expenses.
Dehen said Harrenstein is receiving benefits comparable to what he now gets in Eudora, where he was hired in September of 2009 at a salary of $78,000.
“He’s receiving the same level of car allowance currently,” Dehen said.
Councilman Bob Freyberg, who was assigned to develop the applicant pool to find Sande’s replacement, said the benefits are common for local government administrators.
“Of 37 applicants, I don’t know of one who didn’t have car allowance, cell phone allowance,” Freyberg said.
Councilwoman Diane Norland said she had similar questions about why Harrenstein’s compensation exceeded Sande’s, but she believes that the disparity reflects too little pay for Sande rather than too much for his replacement.