LEMOORE — Nine months after moving from Arizona to take a job as Lemoore’s city manager, Andi Welsh is getting a raise.

The Lemoore City Council voted 4-1 this week to give Welsh a $549-a-month bump, increasing her base annual salary from $128,760 to $135,348.

In addition to her base salary, Welsh receives $6,500 a year in pension benefits, health insurance, a $400-a-month car allowance and a work cellphone.

Welsh couldn’t be immediately reached Wednesday for comment.

The council hired Welsh in June 2015 to replace Jeff Laws, who retired.

For the last few months, council members have been meeting in closed session to evaluate Welsh’s performance.

Members who voted for the raise said they’re pleased with the job she’s done.

“Just having her come in with a fresh set of eyes, she’s really seeing some things that maybe we hadn’t seen before,” Councilman Ray Madrigal said in an interview. “What’s really important is that, essentially, she’s an outsider.”

Madrigal said he thought it was important to hire somebody without previous local connections or ties.

He said the majority of the council decided in closed-session discussions that Welsh deserved the raise. Madrigal said Welsh wasn’t present during any of those discussions.

Madrigal said that when Welsh was hired, she started at the “middle grade” of the salary range for the city manager position.

He said the raise is consistent with raises the council gave to “middle managers” last year.

“It was a way of showing our approval of the job she’s doing,” Madrigal said.

“[Welsh] has exceeded our expectations,” said Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Chedester. “There’s a lot of energy. She’s getting to know all the departments in depth and getting to know the whole picture better than I thought she would in this amount of time.”

The lone dissenter in the vote was Councilman William Siegel.

He said just before the vote at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting that he was going to vote “no” because he didn’t want to decide before May, when the council is set to discuss the 2016-17 budget.

Siegel said his vote wasn’t based on “anything other than the fact that we want our budget in line.”

The agenda item was originally on the consent calendar, which includes multiple items that are voted on together in one motion without discussion.

Siegel requested that the item be removed from the consent calendar to be discussed and voted on by a separate motion.

The council voted 5-0 in favor of Siegel’s request.

Welsh’s next performance evaluation is scheduled for July 2017, according to Lemoore City Attorney Jenell Van Bindsbergen.

Van Bindsbergen said Welsh’s pay is on par with similarly-sized cities in the region. Van Bindsbergen mentioned Reedley and Sanger as examples.

Sanger pays City Manager Tim Chapa $157,000 a year in total compensation, according to Sanger City Councilman Raul Cantu.

Reedley pays City Manager Nicole Zieba $161,507 in base annual salary, according to Executive Assistant Sylvia Plata.

“If you take a look at the other cities, the raise doesn’t put her above those or below those,” Van Bindsbergen said.

The reporter can be reached at snidever@hanfordsentinel.com or 583-2432. Follow him on Twitter @snidever.

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