OGDEN — Still without a permanent manager and hoping to get someone on board soon, Ogden City is considering raising the salary for its head airport position by what could be as much as $18,000 a year.
The Ogden City Council is considering a proposal from the city administration to create a special salary range for the currently in-flux Ogden-Hinckley Airport manager spot.
Jon Greiner is still serving as manager there, essentially in an interim position, despite announcing his intention to retire more than eight months ago.
Ogden began a nationwide search to replace Greiner around the time his retirement plans went public. The city has been collecting applications for the position since, but according to council documents, no qualified candidates emerged during the initial recruitment phase.
“The city received 39 applications,” reads a council transmittal from Ogden’s Community and Economic Development Office. “However, none of the applicants possessed the skills and experience required.”
Because of certain complexities related to the airport and the specific skill set that would be required of a manager there, the city hired ADK Consulting, Inc. to help with the search. The firm, which specializes in recruiting airport administrators, recommended the city increase the position’s pay scale.
Current, starting division manager salaries in Ogden range from $70,687 to $96,591 — the same pay that was being offered for a new airport manager. But the administration is proposing bumping the airport manager salary range up to $84,024 to $114,817.
Ogden Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson said the city recently interviewed five candidates recommended by ADK. The city now has a candidate in mind and is in negotiations with that person, but Johnson said the city is unlikely to secure the candidate without the salary change.
“(Without the pay increase) I don’t think we would have a chance at landing the candidate that we’ve offered money to,” Johnson said.
Pay scales for managers at similar sized airports vary, according to council documents. The manager salary range at the St. George Airport, for example, is $71,731 to $107,597. In Provo it’s $67,236 to $92,664. In Idaho Falls, the salary ranges from $98,000 to $147,000.
But the Ogden airport, which serves as the alternate landing spot for the Salt Lake International Airport, is in a precarious position.
In years past, the city has subsidized the airport at a rate of about $500,000 to $750,000 a year. City officials have said commercial air service will be a major factor in easing the subsidy. Expertise in commercial service will likely be key skill the city requires of its new hire.
The city added service between Ogden and Mesa, Arizona in 2012, with flights provided twice a week by Allegiant Air.
In late 2017, Ogden tried to expand its commercial operation with Allegiant, briefly adding flights to Los Angeles and Las Vegas. But both of those flights were shut down shortly after they began, due to low passenger numbers.
Today, the original Phoenix/Mesa flight is all that remains.
As the Allegiant flights were cut, the city has redirected its focus for commercial service, shifting toward business flights, smaller aircraft and shorter regional flights that service the Intermountain West, identifying companies like SkyWest and Southwest airlines as potential targets for such service.
Council Executive Director Janene Eller-Smith said the pay increase requires a public notice and hearing because it constitutes a budget amendment. The council is expected to take action on the item on Jan. 8.