Missoula Mayor John Engen Took a Pay Raise After Saying He Wouldn’t
Missoula Mayor John Engen’s salary has grown at least 29 percent since he first headed up the city budgeting process in 2006. Recently, he even took a pay raise after explicitly telling the public he wouldn’t.
According to recently obtained information from City of Missoula Fiscal Analyst Scott Paasch, Engen’s budgeted salary in Fiscal Year 2006 was $63,979. After the most recent budget, Engen is set to take in $90,235, this doesn't include his benefit package.
According to statistics from Montana Department of Labor Chief Economist Barbara Wagner, average annual pay in Missoula rose from $30,652 in 2006 to $35,847 in 2013, a rise of just 16.95 percent. In other words, Engen's pay has risen nearly twice as fast as the average Missoulian's.
“I’m not increasing my income,” Engen said during an interview with KGVO News on May 8 of 2014, a declaration that is recorded and still available online. Furthermore, when specifically asked if he was taking his Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) Engen said he wouldn’t, but the facts don’t agree.
When the Fiscal Year 2015 budget was finalized, less than 40 days after his promise, finance department information shows Engen voted not only to give himself a COLA bump of $2,432, but a raise as well.
For Fiscal Year 2014, Missoula budgeted $88,201 for Engen’s salary and $22,275 for his benefit plan, a combined total of $110,476. Fast forward to the most recent budget and Engen’s paycheck has grown to $106,153 (a salary of $90,235 and benefits totaling $23,569).
The following charts were obtained from the City Finance department. The first shows base salary and benefits, as well as the amount of COLA taken by the Mayor in 2014.
Author's note: This was the data used in an original story that suggested a 50 percent pay increase over time and also included a comparison to Missoula County Public School Superintendent Alex Apostle's percentage pay increase (which has also been around 50 percent during tenure) after a new data sheet (at base of page) numbers have been adjusted showing a higher total income, but less of a percent in change over time. The latter spread sheet is presumed to be more accurate according to the Missoula Finance Department.
The following chart, which was received after the bulk of the original story was written, shows the mayor's base salary added to the mayor's vehicle allowance. It also shows how much the mayor took in "actual" pay. It is Important to note that when this vehicle allowance is included the pay raises only represent about a 29 percent raise. It is unclear why the numbers are so different, city spokeswoman Ginny Merriam insists the second set of data is more accurate, but both were obtained from the city.
As for the discrepancy between actual pay and budgeted pay, in short, the mayor gets paid hourly, with no overtime, so if he does not work the number of hours budgeted, he will not receive a full budgeted amount.