by Ivan Foley
It looks like DJ Gehrt, city administrator for Platte City, is going to be around awhile.
On Tuesday night the Platte City Board of Aldermen extended Gehrt’s employment contract by two years, penning a deal that does not expire until Oct. 31, 2019.
Aldermen approved the extension by a vote of 4-1 with one alderman absent. Alderman Vickie Atkins cast the no vote. Alderman Brad Fryrear was absent.
Atkins did not make any remarks in casting her vote of opposition and was not immediately available for comment, as the board headed into an executive session to discuss an unrelated matter.
Reached by email Wednesday morning, Atkins told The Landmark her opposition to the contract extension deals with the language in the agreement dealing with a paid sabbatical for Gehrt.
The contract says that effective Sept. 15, 2017, Gehrt will receive a one-time paid sabbatical for a maximum of 22 days “to be used by the employee no later than Nov. 30, 2017.”
“I believe DJ is doing a good job in his position and had no issue with extending his contract. I did have a problem with the language in the contract pertaining to the paid sabbatical. We have FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) for any employee to use in the case of an extended illness and I felt that should be used instead of setting a precedent of having the language of a ‘paid sabbatical,’” Atkins said.
Gehrt, who has been with the city for nearly six years, seemed pleased with the extension, despite the dissenting vote.
“It’s the first ‘no’ vote I’ve received (on his employment agreement) in my time here,” he said. When asked Tuesday night, he said he had received no indication from Atkins as to the reason for her vote.
The agreement will include some adjustments in pay. Gehrt’s current salary is $92,497. The base contract approved in 2011 adjusts his salary annually based on the base salary adjustment given to staff with satisfactory performance. Assuming the draft budget is approved in September, that adjustment will increase his pay by about $1,000 to $93,497 on Nov. 1 of this year.
Then on Nov. 1, 2018, the contract extension calls for Gehrt’s salary to increase by five percent. That will move Gehrt’s salary to about $98,100 at that time.
In addition, the aldermen approved increasing Gehrt’s level of deferred compensation from its current level of $387.50 per pay period by $12.50 to $400 per pay period. There are 26 pay periods annually at the city.
The deferred compensation benefit was included in the original 2011 agreement in place of the insurance, cell phone and vehicle allowance--which Gehrt does not receive--that had been provided to previous administrators.