Overland Park city councilmembers praised City Manager Bill Ebel Monday night before voting to give him a $10,000 annual pay raise.
Ebel’s leadership during the pandemic was widely cited along with news that he has received local and national recognitions.
“Bill is one of the most honored and honest people I’ve ever known and I think he’s done a wonderful job over a very, very difficult year,” said Mayor Carl Gerlach, who is not seeking reelection this year.
Councilmember Jim Kite said Ebel’s raise, as a percentage, was consistent with what other city employees will get.
The raise amounts to a nearly 4% bump in pay for Ebel, who made $261,440 in 2020, according to the city.
City raises became an issue last year
Raises for city employees were a hotly debated issue as the pandemic was beginning about a year ago.
At that time, Ebel’s decision to furlough 200 part-time employees and delay raises for 60 days was controversial among some city councilmembers who said the city should use its reserve fund to cover the cost.
Police Officer Mike Mosher, then president of the Overland Park Fraternal Order of Police, argued against the delay of raises for first responders, due to their risk of exposure to the coronavirus. (Mosher was later killed during an altercation with a suspect in a hit-and-run accident. A memorial plaque honoring Mosher was unveiled Monday, one year after his killing.)
Honors and recognition
Ebel was recently named Public Works Leader of the Year by the Kansas City-area chapter of the American Public Works Association and one of the top ten public works leaders nationally by the same group.
Councilmembers said Ebel has been a regional leader instrumental in getting the city through unprecedented challenges.
“We are lucky to have him,” said Councilmember Logan Heley.
Councilmember Chris Newlin praised Ebel for his support of the recommendations of the Mental Health Task Force, which he chairs.
“He’s going to lead us to the end of this pandemic properly and we’re going to come out on the other side on top,” Newlin said.
The council approved the raise 10-2, with Councilmembers Faris Farassati and Scott Hamblin voting against.
Farassati and Hamblin both recognized Ebel’s work ethic and character but said they voted against the raise because of other issues discussed in closed session during his pay review.
Farassati called Ebel a scholar, a patriot and a man of honor.
“I just want to mention that none of these qualities are the subject of our ‘no’ vote. We just have other issues that we discussed and cannot disclose,” he said.
Farassati is running for mayor to succeed Gerlach, who announced he is stepping down after his fourth term ends this year.
Council President Curt Skoog is also running for mayor and voted for Ebel’s pay raise.