Matt Robenalt, executive director at the Fort Collins Downtown Development Authority, spread a little holiday cheer Thursday, giving up nearly half of his projected 2022 raise so his eight staff members could get larger pay hikes next year.
Robenalt was in line for a 6% raise, about $9,000 a year. He asked if the DDA Board of Directors would be open to putting $4,000 of the proposed raise toward salary increases for other staff members, DDA Board chairman Chris Aronson said.
“It’s a showcase of Matt’s character,” Aronson said. “He’s doing it because he feels like it’s the right thing to do.”
The DDA board on Thursday unanimously agreed to the change, diverting $4,000 toward staff raises and an additional $6,000 in savings from the personnel budget due to a two-month staff vacancy for additional one-time year-end bonuses for the staff.
No DDA employees got raises this year. “We all agreed we would not take pay raises for 2021,” Robenalt said. “We felt it would be tone-deaf to the situation (brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic) that was occurring with all the businesses and restaurants that we work for if we were to have done that.”
DDA staff members were scheduled to receive 3.4% merit raises, based on performance. With the additional funds available, raises will be based on merit, and bonuses will be spread out evenly for everyone employed by the DDA for at least a year and pro-rated for new hires, Robenalt said.
Salaries for DDA employees range from $51,000 to Robenalt’s $149,487.
Robenalt told the board the staff is facing the steepest inflation in nearly 30 years. “I recognize in any organization the impact is felt more strongly at the lower end of the pay scale than at the top,” he said.
Board members called Robenalt’s gesture “extremely thoughtful” and “magnanimous,” and an example of his leadership.
DDA Project Manager Todd Dangerfield, who has worked with Robenalt for 10 years, said Robenalt’s action “was amazing” and “so much appreciated.”
The DDA, which gets its funding primarily through tax increment financing generated by the anticipated increase in sales and property taxes in the district, has a fixed budget, Aronson said. “Matt is looking out for the overall effectiveness of the DDA and where best to spend the dollars. He just wants to reward his team for all their hard work in the last two years.”
Robenalt has served as executive director of the DDA since 2009, when he replaced Chip Steiner. Previously he was the agency’s project manager.
Pat Ferrier is a senior reporter covering business, health care and growth issues in Northern Colorado. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a subscription today.