The committee that must decide whether to recommend higher pay for Toledo's mayor and city council is going straight to the source for input.
It is sending questionnaires to the 13 officeholders to get their opinions on the pay issue, as one component of its research.
The committee is meeting weekly throughout March so it can make its determination on raises by an April 1 deadline. At yesterday's session, members approved questions for the survey.
The group intends to ask Mayor Carty Finkbeiner just one question: What does he believe the mayor of Toledo should be paid?
Council members, however, will be asked for more information, including how many hours each week they spend on council business and whether they think their jobs should be considered full-time.
Committee member Jennifer Stewart said she thinks the panel must first determine whether the council jobs should be considered full or part-time before it takes on the issue of wages.
Council members are considered part-time employees and are paid $18,500 annually. Council president is paid $23,000, and the mayor $75,000, yearly. The salaries have not changed since Toledo enacted its strong-mayor form of government in 1993.
Any raises recommended by the committee would be for the mayor and council members who will take office in January, 2002.
Committee member Keith McCrea said he believes that as long as the salaries of council members remain low, there will be a bias toward retirees on council. Mr. McCrea said he would not be surprised if, over the next 15 years, all of council was made up of retired citizens. Five of the 12 people on council are retirees.
Aside from the survey, the panel is reviewing a variety of other wage data collected by council staff, including:
The data shows that Toledo's mayor is the lowest paid of a large cross section of public administrators and oversees the largest annual budget - $399 million.
Salaries for some other local public administrators are, $95,000 for the Toledo Area Metroparks District director, $132,500 for the Toledo Library director, $135,000 for the Toledo Zoo director, $135,000 for Toledo Schools superintendent, $137,108 for the Toledo Lucas County Port Authority director, and $160,000 for the director of Regional Growth Partnership.
Labor has received raises averaging 3.3 to 3.5 percent per year since 1994.
The index has show growth between 1.6 and 3 percent since 1994.
Several of the mayor's top administrators are making more than him, including Chief Operating Officer Mike Justen, $92,500, fire Chief Mike Bell, $91,500, and police Chief Mike Navarre, $91,000.
The Akron mayor's salary is $123,531, and salaries of its part-time council president and members are $34,590, and $26,873, respectively. Part-time council members in Pittsburgh are paid $48,894, and the mayor $85,751. Pittsburgh's population is about 62,800 larger than Toledo, and Akron's is about 84,000 smaller.
Voters, in November, approved the establishment of the seven-member compensation committee, to review the salaries of council and the mayor. The panel must make a recommendation to council about raises, but council is free to enact raises that are more or less than the recommendation.
After some discussion, the group decided not to hold a public hearing for information gathering.
City council is expected to hold hearings before it would act on any raises, and members felt their recommendations should be based on salary data, not public pressure.
“We shouldn't be making a political decision. The council should be making the political decision,” Charles Krueger said.
Mr. Krueger, who is serving as the group's facilitator, said he wants next Monday's discussion to focus on the issue of the mayor's salary.
Council formed the committee by seeking representation from various groups, and then asking those bodies to appoint a person to the committee.
Members and the groups they represent are, Mary Karazim, League of Women Voters; Ms. Stewart, the Employers Association; Myron Duhart, NAACP; Mr. Krueger, Toledo Chamber of Commerce; Mr. McCrea, Lucas County Democratic Party; Michael Goetz, Lucas County Republican Party; and Willie Ward, United Labor Committee.