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Council debates increasing executive pay levels

A Toledo councilman offered a compromise on Tuesday to Mayor Mike Bell’s request to increase executive pay levels for 70 top city positions, but the administration quickly countered with another proposal.

No decisions were made. Council debated the proposals for 30 minutes during its agenda review meeting — where it also heard a proposal to tear down Jamie Farr Pool at 2000 Summit St. and use the site to build a new Fire Station 3. The fire house at 701 Bush St. was closed Sept. 13 when crews discovered the floor had buckled.

Mayor Mike Bell originally introduced legislation that would increase the pay ranges for deputy mayors, directors, commissioners, managers, and attorneys by 18 to 20 percent, depending on the position. Since then, the mayor has repeatedly defended it as something that hasn't been addressed in years. The proposal also had built-in automatic increases to the ranges — not particular salaries.

Councilman D. Michael Collins offered to increase the ranges 10 percent with several strings attached.

“The present salary ranges will remain the same and in the first full pay period of 2014 will be adjusted by 10 percent to the minimum and maximum range,” Mr. Collins said.

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

Mayor Bell said Mr. Collins’ proposal would mean some employees would take a pay cut because the pension pickup would end a year before the pay ranges would be increased. Of the 70 employees potentially affected, only about five are paid the maximum under their classifications. He refused to identify which employees he wants to give pay raises.

Councilmen have urged the mayor to adjust salaries before asking to increase the permissible ranges. The last time the city adjusted the executive pay ranges, with the exception of the police and fire chiefs, was 1998.

For example, Deputy Mayor Steve Herwat and Safety Director Shirley Green are both paid $90,000. The range is $60,500 to $92,500 for their classification.

However, the current city code does not list a deputy mayor. Instead, it designates pay for a “chief operating officer” for the $60,500-$92,500 range.

Mr. Bell’s original change would add the deputy mayor position and make the range $60,500 to $115,500.

Mr. Collins suggested the range be $66,550 to $101,750. The revised Bell administration max was $110,000.

Council could vote on the proposals next week. It could also vote on a plan to spend $344,000 toward a new Fire Station 3 on the pool site.

Mr. Herwat said the pool was open this past summer but “got very little use.” Councilman Lindsay Webb disagreed, saying demolishing the facility would cause a neighborhood uproar because it was widely used.

The Station 3 crew was moved to East Toledo’s Station 13, 1899 Front St. Station No. 3 was put into service in 1927, when fire trucks were much smaller.

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

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