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Published: Tuesday, 10/23/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

$295,000 COST

Bell hikes salary for 55 execs, lawyers

Order sidesteps Toledo council

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Chris Zervos and Valerie Robertson received the highest dollar increase of city employees. Chris Zervos and Valerie Robertson received the highest dollar increase of city employees.
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Toledo Mayor Mike Bell has given across-the-board salary increases to many of his top administrators and lawyers — a move that will cost the city $295,000 over a year, officials said Monday.

Fifty-five nonunion city employees will see bumps in pay starting with their next paychecks.

The raises include all three deputy mayors — Steve Herwat and Shirley Green, whose salaries increase from $90,002 to $92,500, and Paul Syring, whose salary increases from $85,001 to $92,500.

The mayor’s order to increase the salaries was the latest salvo in a battle over executive pay ranges for Toledo’s top city officials and lawyers.

Mayor Bell had asked council weeks ago to increase the pay ranges, which would not have necessarily translated into any actual pay raises. A majority of council refused to do so.

During several council sessions that included lengthy debate, some councilmen pointed out that the vast majority of the affected city employes were not at the top of their pay ranges and could be given raises without any changes to the city code.

“At the suggestion of several members of council over the course of recent hearings, I have implemented salary adjustments within the ranks of city executive exempt staff,” the mayor wrote to councilmen on Monday.

“I regret the fact that some deserving employees cannot have their salaries raised, as they are already at the maximum of the pay ranges that have been in effect since 1998, a period of 14 years,” the letter said. The police and fire chiefs have had pay increases during Mr. Bell’s administration.

Mr. Bell said it is unfair that unionized city workers have received pay raises while those in the management ranks have not.

“An example of the inequity between bargaining unit employees and executive exempt staff is the fact that, year to date in 2012, nearly $6.2 million in nonbase payments have been paid to the other city employees. ... Step increase in contracts, based solely on years of service, approach $1 million in 2012.”

The raises include nine city directors who are paid between $76,500 and $90,000. They all will be paid $92,000. Six commissioners will be paid $77,500; one commissioner will be paid $77,000; two commissioners will be paid $75,000, and one commissioner will be paid $74,000.

Council President Joe McNamara said the mayor should concentrate on raising the “economic positions” of Toledo’s residents. The increases will cost the city $62,000 through Dec. 31.

“I think the tone of the mayor’s letter is out of touch with the lives of most Toledoans who would be thrilled to be making $92,500,” he said. “He has the authority to do it. The fact that he did it shows one of the reasons why council was so concerned about giving the latitude to do 20 percent [pay-range increases], because he pretty much maxed out everybody.”

Mayor Bell originally introduced legislation that would increase the pay ranges for deputy mayors, directors, commissioners, managers, and lawyers by 18 to 20 percent, depending on the position.

Councilman D. Michael Collins offered to increase the ranges 10 percent, but the present salary ranges would have remained in effect until Jan. 1, 2014; the 5 percent “pension pickup” for those employees would be eliminated effective Jan. 1, 2013, and those employees would have to pay the same medical-premium increases as some union members. They also would be paid a one-time $1,250 stipend.

The Bell administration shot back with a proposal to increase the ranges 15 percent but it removed the automatic range increases originally proposed.

Council on Oct. 9 rejected the compromise proposal that Mayor Bell had offered. Only two of 12 councilmen — Mike Craig and Adam Martinez — voted in favor of an amendment to the Bell administration’s original plan.

Mr. Collins said he would not have granted “across-the-board increases.”

Mr. Collins also questioned whether the employees would pay more for their pension plans and more for health care, which has been the case for unionized workers the past several years.

Don Czerniak, president of service workers union AFSCME Local 7, the city’s largest union with 900 employees, was disappointed with the raises.

“The people who do the brunt of the city work took the concessions and everyone else is coming out smelling like a rose,” he said.

Mr. Czerniak said his members are now the only group of city employees not to receive a raise.

“Obviously, we are not considered valued employees,” he said. “Are they going to get the new medical? Are they going to pay into their pensions?”

Councilman George Sarantou said the Bell administration has a plan to pay for the increases this year.

“They said this has already been budgeted by virtue of the fact that it was announced [Tuesday] that they are expecting a $900,000 surplus that they will carry over to 2013,” Mr. Sarantou.

The employees who were already being paid at the top of their pay scales, and will not get more money, are Clarence Coleman, commissioner of taxation; Tom Crothers, commissioner of administrative services in public utilities; Dave Shriner, commissioner of debt; Cheryl Kolebuck, manager of selection and evaluation; Kelly DeBruyn, commissioner of sewage and drainage services, Don Moline, commissioner of field operations in public utilities, Joe Howe, a municipal court prosecutor, and Calvin Brown, acting commissioner of benefits and training.

Jill Pershing, commissioner of economic development, did not receive a pay raise since she was recently promoted and received a pay increase with that move, city spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei said.

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


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