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Published: Thursday, 12/27/2012

Toledo City Council responds to mayor's pay increase requests with raises of its own

BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Council President Joe McNamara cast the lone dissenting vote on the officials' pay raises. Council President Joe McNamara cast the lone dissenting vote on the officials' pay raises.
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In response to Mayor Mike Bell’s across-the-board salary increases in October for 55 administrators and lawyers — a move that will cost the city $295,000 more a year — Toledo City Council has given a pay bump to four officials it controls.

Council voted 9-1 to increase the salaries of the council clerk, assistant clerk, city auditor, and plan commission director by 8 percent. But those four employees will lose their 5 percent “pension pickup” by the city, netting a 3 percent increase overall.

Councilman D. Michael Collins, who pushed for the compensation changes before council approved them last week, said it was the fair thing to do after the mayor boosted salaries an average of 9.8 percent, with no adjustment, for administration officials whose pension payment plans are still covered by the taxpayers.

Council President Joe McNamara cast the lone dissenting vote. Councilmen Mike Craig and Phillip Copeland were not present for the vote.

“It was a confusing vote because the plan was that they lower the pension pickup and increase the salary,” Mr. McNamara said. “My ‘no’ vote was to illustrate that I was against raises at this time. We have a high unemployment rate, we have a structural deficit, and we have a lot of Toledoans hurting, so now is not the time to be giving raises.”

Mr. Bell’s raises in October included all three deputy mayors: Steve Herwat and Shirley Green, whose salaries increase to $92,500 from $90,002, and Paul Syring, whose salary increases to $92,500 from $85,001. The mayor’s order to raise the salaries was the latest salvo in a long battle over executive pay ranges for top officials and lawyers.

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

Mr. Collins said the mayor’s first proposal was to raise the maximum for the pay ranges by 20 percent and he was silent on health-care and pension pickups.

Mr. Bell argued in October that it was unfair that unionized city workers had received pay raises while those in the management ranks have not.

Mr. Collins more recently pointed out that the lowest-paid employees in the city pay more for health-insurance premiums than some of the highest-paid officials.

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



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