Aurora Administrators Get Bonuses Amid Budget Cuts

Written by Brian Maass
AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – Aurora City Council awarded three of its four appointees performance bonuses earlier this year in the midst of deep budget cuts that included restricting library hours, closing city pools and cutting city jobs.

“I’m extremely surprised at this. The timing is amazing to me,” said Randy Rester, who leads the Aurora Firefighters Union.

Rester said Aurora’s 300 firefighters agreed to pay and benefit concessions to assist the city with its budget problems, but he said he wasn’t aware that the city was simultaneously awarding bonuses to top administrators.

“I feel the people in the city have been betrayed,” Rester said. “They’re not practicing what they’re preaching.”

The CBS4 investigation found that Aurora City Council has four apppointees: the city manager, city attorney, presiding municipal judge and court administrator. The city manager was the only one who did not receive a bonus because he only began working for Aurora late last year.

The bonuses handed out in 2011 were based on 2010 job performance. The awards were decided on in City Council executive session and were not made public as they are judged to be personnel issues.

Chief Municipal Judge Richard Weinberg, who made $130,666 last year plus another $10,613 in deferred compensation, received a $3,920 performance award. Court Administrator Zelda Deboyes, who makes $134, 858 per year and receives $17,697 in deferred compensation, was given a $5,394 performance award. Aurora City Council gave city attorney Charlie Richardson a $7,934 performance award in addition to his $158,679 annual salary and $22,000 in annual deferred compensation.

All three appointees have had their annual salaries frozen since 2009 and did not receive bonuses in 2009 or 2010.

Richardson told CBS4 his bonus was justified in part by his efforts last year in a patent infringement case, which saved the city an estimated $750,000. Richardson has been with the Aurora city attorney’s office since 1976.

“These really are key people in our organization,” Councilmember Bob Broom said. “The productivity is up a lot and that’s because of good leadership, so they need to be rewarded for that. We just felt it was important to motivate them to do a good job and reward them for it.”

Broom said the amount of the bonuses pales in comparison to the cost of shopping around to replace good employees who leave for better pay and benefits elsewhere.

Kim Stuart, communications director for the city of Aurora, told CBS4 the bonuses were justified, even in these budget slashing times.

“None of them has received salary increases since 2008 and the average 4 percent one-time payment to them this year is a reasonable acknowledgment of their contributions.”

But with Aurora city employees taking furlough days, street and park maintenance being deferred, and 200 city jobs eliminated, bonuses are a sore subject.

“You lead by example, and I’m not seeing a leader here,” Rester said. “You can’t have it both ways. If it’s that bad, these people shouldn’t be getting bonuses.”

Additional Resources

View the compensation history of three Aurora City Council appointees

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  • MJ

    Amen to that, typical political elitist attitude.

  • KR

    Gee, I wonder if any of these city administrators put their lives at risk or saved a life in 2010 like the firefighters did? What is that worth? Where is their reward? I would say the firefighters are the “key” people in the city of Aurora not the beancounters.

  • KL

    No City of Aurora employee has received a pay increase since 2008, if that’s Ms. Stuart’s reasoning, then the rest of the employees deserve a 4% one time bonus, as well.

  • SW

    Amen to KL. I was layed off in 2009. Because of the budget and now this! The city should hire back some of the layed off employees, and use the money to pay them, not add to the ones that make more money than MOST city employess.

  • DA

    Absolutely despicable! I guess a 4% raise for the rest of the city employees is now justified as well by this line of reasoning. Lets not forget due to new negotiations, Police officers will get a $1000 bonus in 2012 and 2013, while the rest of the city staff are working hard to compensate for the layoff’s and hiring freeze, with no pay increase or cost of living increase since 2008. let’s just say these appointees do their jobs without the extra compensation like all the rest.

  • Rob Auerbach

    Take the money back and give it to the firefighters and cops. Even if it only gives them a small amount of money they are worth every penny! The City of Aurora should wake up and the citizens should clean house!!!!

  • Jude Sandvall

    I was appalled to learn from KCNC-TV’s report that the Aurora City Council has given pay bonuses to three of their four appointed administrators who all garner a salary of more than $130,000 per year (the fourth didn’t receive one because he was just hired). Worse, they did it under the cover of an executive session that is not open to the public.

    This is just another example of their unwillingness to address meaningful budget reform and continue their spending. While they have closed our libraries, closed our pools, and furloughed city employees, the council has also given themselves pay raises in four of the last five years and doled out a massive incentive of your tax dollars to a private corporation.

    It is time that our city government learns to live within their means just like each and every Aurora citizen has in these tough economic times. As a candidate for Mayor I have proposed a program that will keep our city government accountable and help us to track our performance. This will ensure that we are good stewards of tax dollars and properly prioritize our budget allowing us to reopen basic city services like libraries and pools that make a healthy and vibrant city.

    Jude Sandvall
    Candidate for Mayor of Aurora

    • DL Smith

      Jude, Why isn’t the Aurora Sentinel covering this story?

  • DL Smith


    There are planned lay offs later this year and early next year within the City staff. Why do they get a bonus when other employees will be laid off and will possibly be loosing everything because they can’t survive this recession? These bonuses could save 2-3 jobs.

    Ridiculous! Outrageously HUGE bonuses should be against the law. Reminds me of the Bankers, CEO’s, Corporations thta got stimulus dollars—we know who’s getting rich!

  • Cap America

    Return the money to it’s rightful owners – the person whose work produced the capital in the first place. No real difference between handing it out to a political appointee or a public sector union employee.

  • Mike C

    They all make to much money. They should cut there pay. Do they really need to make 130,000 per year. Cutting there pay will save jobs.

  • Dad

    So, let me get this right. They received bonuses for doing their job? What about the other employees who do more? I like Mr. Richardson’s huge ego. I’m surprised he can fit it in his office.

  • DL Smith

    Maybe the staff that received all this money–I added up a total of $424,203 should be laid off and other city employees would be able to keep their jobs. i don’t the city needs to be paying these people so much money—not when the City is loosing libraries, teachers and other city staff.

    And the City Council WANTS to GIVE AWAY Tax incentives to wealthy developers to build the Gaylord Project (and whoopie, create lots of service industry jobs that people can’t live on!)—–Ridiculous.

    The priorities of the Aurora City Council needs to be re-examined.

  • cb

    I say vote out every single council member. The rest of the city workers don’t ever get bonuses and haven’t had a raise for two years and won’t get one next year. And they did this behind closed doors. I guess they knew they were doing something wrong. HIding their deeds.

  • Sheilah Davis

    The needs of the many outweigh the desires of the few. How much good could we have done with that money?

    It’s time for new leadership in the City of Aurora. It’s time to stop rewarding incompetence. We gave a bonus to a lawyer pushing for the prosecution of a rape survivor for cursing at an officer?


    This is wrong.

    Thank goodness we have a chance to elect new leadership this year. Feel free to Google me if you need help getting registered to vote – I’ll help.

    • Sheilah Davis

      I apologize…I should have used the term ‘sexual assault’ rather than rape. I do, however, stand by assertion that such behavior on the part of any city attorney is incompetent as it puts the taxpayers at risk of paying out claims for first amendment violations and harassment. That conduct will also create a situation where other sexual assault survivors will hesitate to contact the police for fear of being put on trial.

      We need leadership that works for the people….not for themselves.

  • baseballmom10

    In addition to the wage freeze and lack of raises, City employees have been asked to take furlough days each year in order to “save the City money.” How does it make City employees feel to hear their Council person state the bonuses were justified because “These really are key people in our organization,” Councilmember Bob Broom said. “The productivity is up a lot and that’s because of good leadership, so they need to be rewarded for that. We just felt it was important to motivate them to do a good job and reward them for it.” and that the amount of the bonuses pales in comparison to the cost of shopping around to replace good employees who leave for better pay and benefits elsewhere. Isn’t every employee important and key to the City’s organization? How should the City employees who have taken on the mantle of “doing what’s best for the City right now” be rewarded for their service and committment? And what would be the cost to the City if all of their valuable employees set loyalty aside and went looking for better pay and benefits? It is a super tough economy right now and people ARE grateful to have jobs therefore they will sit tight and see this through City budget deficit through, but what a kick in the head to their morale to have their lack of worth be so obviously acknowledged. And my last and most serious question…what else is going on in behind the closed doors of Aurora City Council Executive Session?

  • dindenver

    Look at the DPS Central Office administrators annual bonuses. Why shouldn’t they forfeit the bonus and hire more teachers?

  • who cares

    City workers have gotten a 1# raise, however health insurance went up more than that, so really employees have taken PAY CUTS over the last several years. This is more payola than good job. Have to pay Charlie off so he keeps changing charter so council can keep the public unaware of what they are doing. The courts and Zelda, well maybe the courts should give the money they take in back to the general fund, instead of keeping it for herself. By the way where does the money come from for the catered lunches the court does for their employees??? The court revenue stream is Animal Control, Code, Fire and Police, yet they get no part of the revenue courts make. and I’m sure the other goof is covering something. Maybe the employees who actually get things done in the city should all call in sick the same day. See how much these fools can really do. Give us the money and toss the overpaid stuffed shirts. Time for a total overhaul at the city. so GO VOTE and not for someone who has been part of this party in council before

  • Nova6

    It’s amazing what goes on behind the green doors of the City of Aurora. While city counsel was handinng out these outrages bonuses I wonder if they also were deciding how many employees they were going to lay off?
    The city is adament that there is not enough money to provide Police protection to it’s citizens to the tune of two Officers per thousand, they can’t afford to pay Fire Fighters and those men and women are making concessions on theirr own to aid the city in this crisis so City Counsil takes this money and gives it out in the form of a bonus to employees that are making 6 figures yearly? I would rather have the Fire and Police protection than higher paid leaches in the ivory tower.
    Here’s the challange. Mr. Richardson and Weinberg and Ms. Deboyes and the rest of the money vacuums, return the bonus money to the City. I’m sure you can live on your 6 figure salary, as tough as it might be, there are City employees living on a lot less. You do care about your fellow employees don’t you?
    As a long time citizen of Aurora I have to wonder where else the city is wasting my dollar!
    I guess it remains to be seen just how loyal these employees are to the City that pays them the big bucks.
    The only real weapon I have is my vote and rest assured I will it!

  • DL Smith

    Why isn’t the Aurora Sentinel covering this story???????

    Brain Maas, please ask the Aurora Sentinel to cover this story, thank you.

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