City Council approves Bessinger raise

Marie Havenga • Oct 6, 2017 at 11:00 AM

FERRYSBURG — City Council isn't agreeing on much these days, but when it comes to their evaluation of City Manager Craig Bessinger, there's consensus — he's doing a great job.

Bessinger received 942 out of a possible 945 points in his recent evaluation by City Council.

With the great review comes a 3 percent pay raise, boosting his salary from $88,077 to $90,719. The increase is for fiscal year 2017-18, retroactive to July 1.

Bessinger scored lowest (34 out of 35 possible points) in the categories of City Council responsibilities, official boards and commissions, and assistance to developers.

Mayor Dan Ruiter said Bessinger encouraged City Council to limit his raise to 2 percent, because that is what other staff members are receiving this year.

Ruiter said City Council members didn't want to risk losing Bessinger, who will celebrate his 22nd year with the city next month.

“I was the ringleader in that discussion (2 percent to 3 percent raise),” Ruiter said. “Ferrysburg cannot afford to lose him, especially now with all this stuff going on. It would be a disaster if were to lose him. I encouraged that we get him in line with the market. By going that extra 1 percent, I feel that we did that.”

Ruiter has high praise for the city manager.

“I'm just totally impressed with him,” Ruiter said. “He's doing the work of three people as far as I'm concerned. His financial stewardship, you couldn't ask for any better than that. We've been in the black for the 15 years I've been around. He's very professional and knowledgeable in what he's doing. I don't think there's anybody in the state that could do as well as he does.”

Ruiter said Bessinger is “organized and he's just plain dedicated to Ferrysburg.”

Council member Kathleen Kennedy agreed.

Her only suggestion for improvement is that Bessinger use more of his vacation days.

“He's stellar,” Kennedy said. “As a city, we are so lucky to have the manager that we have in Craig. He is a very valuable asset to this community as well as to the city itself.”

Kennedy said she's impressed with the way Bessinger handles himself, even during difficult and divisive times, like what has been happening recently in the city during a contentious election year.

“He's always very calm and very professional,” Kennedy said. “No matter how he personally feels about one subject or another, he handles everything professionally. That is a good strength to have — to keep your opinions and feelings to yourself, especially during this election year that's been so chaotic.”

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