Zimomra and Cuyler slash own salaries by 15 percent
Sanibel City Manager Judie Zimomra and City Attorney Kenneth Cuyler both stunned the local community on Monday when they independently announced self-imposed pay-cuts of 15 percent, saving the City of Sanibel a total of $55,274 in annual salary expenses.
The pay-cuts come on the heels of several budget-cutting measures in the past few months that have constricted the ranks of city staffers in just about every department, while saving Sanibel taxpayers thousands of dollars. Although most of the staff reductions have been made through
attrition – where positions are simply eliminated when vacated – existing staffers have had to assume additional duties, usually without increased compensation.
“I know that everyone is going to be asked to make sacrifices over the next 6 to 18 months, and I think that it’s a good idea to be in front of that,” explained Cuyler of his decision, which was made without direction from or consultation with City Council, he said.
Zimomra noted that her decision to reduce her own base salary by 15 percent was also made without direction from or consultation with any City Council members.
“I believe that during these stark economic times, managers have a moral obligation to lead in sacrifice,” she said in a press release. “I am fortunate to have been born to hard-working, blue-collar parents, thus I am well-aware of the value of a paycheck to the families of our laborers.”
Zimomra said that the Public Works Department has been particularly hard-hit by the budget cuts and staffing cutbacks.
“There’s more work than there are hours to do it,” she explained. “And this will give those workers the opportunity to earn some overtime pay.”
Sanibel Mayor Mick Denham was quick to express his pride following news of Zimomra’s action.
“With all the challenges facing our businesses and workers in this economy, I am proud of the way our City Manager has acted to demonstrate her belief in what is right,” said Denham. “She is not only a valuable asset to our community, her action also sets an example for us all.”
City Council candidate David Bath said he applauded both Zimomra and
Cuyler for their generosity, while Councilman Marty Harrity admired Zimomra’s commitment to the team.
“I think Judie said it best,” said Harrity. “You lead by example.”
City Council candidate Dr. David Berger said he complimented the City Manager on her decision to voluntarily reduce her salary and assign it to other needy areas in the city budget.
“She sets an outstanding example for every individual in an executive management position and to us as Sanibel citizens as well,” said Dr. Berger. “Difficult times require difficult decisions and sacrifice. I tip my hat to Judie Zimomra.”
Zimomra, who was among the highest paid of Lee County’s municipal managers, drawing an annual salary of $189,000 prior to the pay-cut, has served as the Sanibel City Manager for the past seven and a half years. Cuyler, who drew an annual salary of $179,496 prior to the reduction, has served as Sanibel’s City Attorney since 2002.
Although Zimomra and Cuyler are thought to be among the first local public officials to slash their own salaries, another local municipal manager made headlines in July 2007 when he refused a contracted $6,000 pay increase. Fort Myers Beach Town Manager Scott Janke, who draws an annual salary of $106,000, said he refused the pay hike due to economic conditions.