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Published: Wednesday, 10/10/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Mayor's original proposal left standing, sent to committee

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Toledo City Council rejected Tuesday an already slimmed-down request from Mayor Mike Bell to increase executive pay levels for 70 top city positions.

Only two of 12 councilmen — Mike Craig and Adam Martinez — voted in favor of an amendment to the Bell administration’s original plan to increase the ranges 15 percent.

The failing vote left council with only Mayor Bell’s original proposal, which it quickly sent back to committee. That legislation, originally introduced six weeks ago, would increase the pay ranges for deputy mayors, directors, commissioners, managers, and attorneys by 18 to 20 percent, depending on the position. It also had built-in automatic increases to the ranges — not particular salaries.

Councilman D. Michael Collins said he thought debate on the issue had been settled when he presented Mayor Bell with his own compromise on Sept. 26.

“He said he liked it and it was fair,” Mr. Collins said.

Mr. Collins offered to increase the ranges 10 percent with several strings attached. He suggested that current salary ranges remain in effect until the first full pay period of 2014, when they would be increased 10 percent.

His proposal also eliminated the 5 percent “pension pickup” for those employees effective Jan. 1, 2013; employees would have to pay the same medical-premium increases as some union members, and they would be paid a one-time $1,250 stipend.

Mr. Collins said Tuesday night that Mayor Bell had “blindsided” him last week with the counterproposal to his counterproposal.

“Mayor Bell, you gambled, you lost. Now the fate of these employees is in your hands,” Mr. Collins told the mayor in council chambers. Mr. Collins then declined to introduce his own proposal, which he said would have been approved by a council majority.

Mr. Bell, who arrived late at council's regular meeting and left early, did not address Mr. Collins or otherwise speak during the session.

Mr. Collins later explained that “the gamble” referred to Mr. Bell trying to get council to approve the proposal with 15 percent pay-range increases.

Mayoral spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei said, “I don’t think it was a gamble. It was an attempt to find some equality for people who haven’t had their pay ranges adjusted since 1998. The amendment the administration presented was an attempt to find middle ground between our original proposal and Mr. Collins’ proposal in pursuit of that equality.”

The last time the city adjusted executive pay ranges, with the exception of the police and fire chiefs, was 1998.

Councilmen have urged the mayor to adjust salaries before asking to increase the permissible ranges, because many are not at the top of their pay scales.

In other business, council delayed votes on two other high-profile ordinances: a plan to spend $344,000 toward a new Fire Station 3 and a request to refinance $5.37 million in general obligation bonds at a 2.85 percent interest rate, down from the current rate of 6.25 percent.

The refinanced bonds would be for LaSalle Apartments LLC. The bonds were used to remodel and rehabilitate downtown Toledo's former Lasalle’s department store building into apartments.

Under the original deal, the property owner was required to offer 40 percent of its 131 apartments to low-income or income-restricted tenants. That mandate was a condition for a 15-year tax credit, which has expired.

There also was an income restriction attached to the current bonds, but with the pending refinancing, the property owner is allowed to transform every unit to market rate.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171.



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