The Colorado Springs City Council has approved at new salary of $447,000 for the CEO of Springs Utilities. It was $336,000 per year. The increase will be spread out over three years.
Back in February the proposed salary of nearly half a million dollars for Utilities CEO Jerry Forte, failed in a City Council vote 5 to 4, but the Council decided to take a second look at the hefty pay raise.
On Tuesday there was another split vote, but this time it was in favor of the raise.
"I understand from a citizens perspective it seems like a lot of money, but Utilities is really a billion dollar corporation, and it's a four service utility. It's not just an electric company or a gas company," said Council Member Jan Martin who voted to support the raise.
"There's a lot of people concerned that if we keep the salary, the replacement will come in at the increased salary, so I'm not for a pay raise for Mr. Forte," said Council Member Helen Collins who voted against it.
City Council says the previous proposal was too much money all at once. The new proposal spreads his raise out over three years. They have also decided to remove all of his pay incentives which included bonuses.
Council members previously did a compensation study to compare Forte's salary to 42 similar sized utility companies in the country. The study claims Forte's pay is well below the market average.
“The executive survey that we did actually shows the median range for people in Jerry's position is $622,000. We haven't given our CEO an increase in over seven years and that's why we've fallen so far behind," Martin told 11 News.
11 News also talked with local folks about his proposed pay raise.
“That just sounds huge. It just sounds huge," one Springs woman told 11 News.
“I think he earns every penny of it," another local woman, Jan Netzer said.
Right now Forte is eligible to retire and Martin says they feared he would leave if they didn't increase his salary.
Council members say funding for his salary will come from utility customers, but will not raise any rates.