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Published: Wednesday, 4/24/2013

Salary hikes proposed for Toledo mayor, City Council

Increases range from 11 to 18 percent

Council President Paula Hicks-Hudson, right, said the recommendations from a salary review and recommendation will be presented as emergency ordinances. Council President Paula Hicks-Hudson, right, said the recommendations from a salary review and recommendation will be presented as emergency ordinances.
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A proposed increase in the mayor of Toledo's salary, as well as pay increases for City Council, will be presented at council’s April 30 meeting.

During a committee-of-the-whole meeting on Tuesday, council President Paula Hicks-Hudson said the recommendations from a salary review and recommendation will be presented as emergency ordinances and the three readings will be waived.

The salary review commission determined that the mayor's salary should be increased 11 percent to $136,000 from $122,400.

The commission also determined that the salary of a councilman should increase 18 percent to $32,500 from $27,500.

The mayor’s salary was reduced from $136,000 to $122,400 four years ago when Democrat Carty Finkbeiner was mayor.

The reduced salary is paid to Mayor Mike Bell.

Commission member Mary Karazim, of the League of Women Voters, said the group members analyzed council and mayoral salaries in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Akron, Dayton, and Fort Wayne, Ind.

Four commission members outlined the factors behind the recommendations.

Ms. Karazim said the group discussed the job duties of council members and agreed that being a council member is not a part-time job.

“We did a lot of discussions about what's expected, all of the places, events, strange hours that you experience,” she told council.

Commission member Michael Alexander of the NAACP said the group said the recommendations were not politically motivated.

“We felt that the job was basically evolving,” he said. “Toledo is a progressive city.”

Because many of the other cities gave council members increases, Mr. Alexander said that to keep going in an upward direction, an “uptick” in salaries was necessary.

But Betsy Dieball of the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, another commission member, said time was another factor in the commission's decisions.

“If there's no increase now, you have to wait another four years,” she said.

The commission, established by the city charter, meets once every four years. Ms. Dieball said council salaries have not increased since 2002.

Some council members said they would not vote in favor of the two recommendations.

“I'm not going to be supporting this,” Councilman D. Michael Collins said, citing “Mayor Bell and his executive staff never participated in salary and/or pension pickups, after the budget review in 2010. All other employees [classified] agreed to or unilaterally received reductions in both,” he read from a statement that he distributed at the meeting.

Councilman Joe McNamara said he also would not support the recommendation, pointing to the Lucas County unemployment rate of 9.1 percent.

No one in the audience spoke about the commission's recommendations.

No councilmen spoke in favor of the recommendations, although Councilman Rob Ludeman said an extra salary increase could allow council members to attend more community events, because councilmen no longer receive monthly stipends.

Mr. Ludeman said that some events they attend have costly ticket prices, ranging from $100 to $200.

He said members used to get an extra $200 stipend a month that they could use for mileage or event tickets, but council members elected not to use it.

“We eliminated that from our budget when times got tough, a few years back,” he said.

Mayor Bell, who was in Columbus on Tuesday testifying against a bill that would ban red light and speed cameras, did not attend the meeting.

If the increases are approved, they would be for officials elected in November and would not be effective until Jan. 2, 2014.

Contact Kelly McLendon at: kmclendon@theblade.com, 419-724-6522, or on Twitter @KMcBlade.

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