Ray Beck will continue as Columbia’s city manager for at least another year, but members of the Columbia City Council worry whether they’re paying him enough.
After giving Beck a stellar review for his performance over the past year, the council decided Wednesday night to extend his contract another year. Beck’s new salary will be $128,911, which includes a 2 percent merit increase and a 2 percent cost-of-living increase. The council also agreed to a one-time payment of $200 to defray the higher cost of medical insurance.
Despite the raises, council members worry Beck’s salary might be insufficient. It’s not that Beck, who’s been city manager for 18 years, is clamoring for more cash. Rather, Sixth Ward Councilman Brian Ash said, the council is worried about the public perception if Beck’s eventual successor demands a much higher salary.
“Ray’s not going to be there forever,” Ash said. “If we have to hire a replacement, it might be sticker shock.”
Ash said he doesn’t believe that Beck — a city employee for 43 years — plans to retire anytime soon. But, he said, “It’s getting to be where Ray’s been there long enough. We need to start thinking about it.”
Beck could not be reached for comment.
An informal survey of four Missouri cities showed Beck’s salary is comparable to those of city managers elsewhere. In Springfield, the salary is $150,747 and in Cape Girardeau it’s $83,963. Ash said that while there are no immediate plans to adjust Beck’s pay, the council is considering an analysis to determine whether his pay is adequate.
Ash noted one of Beck’s most significant accomplishments over the past year was voters’ overwhelming approval of nearly $50 million in bonds for water and sewer projects. “That was one of the big ones,” he said.
Mayor Darwin Hindman also had nothing but praise for Beck. “He has provided dedicated and extremely effective service,” he said in a news release.
Council members look to Beck for advice when they are making decisions, Ash said. “It’s hard to imagine someone else.”