Alderman Jennifer Lepper, R-5, stirred the political pot once again Monday when she suggested that elected officials voluntarily decline any raises they are slated to receive next fiscal year.
She said it would be unfair for elected officials to get pay hikes when other city employees are not receiving raises in the 2010-11 budget.
Lepper’s request would primarily impact Mayor John Spring, City Clerk Jenny Hayden and City Treasurer Peggy Crim, all of whom are slated to receive 1.5 percent raises next year in accordance with a salary ordinance approved in May 2008.
Spring and Crim told The Herald-Whig they haven’t yet decided what they will do about Lepper’s request.
“It’s a private decision,” Spring said. “We’ll decide what we want to do.”
Crim said she wants to wait until Corporation Counsel Andrew Staff researches the legal issues surrounding the request before she makes up her mind.
But Hayden made it clear from the get-go she has no plans to relinquish her scheduled raise, which will boost her salary by $889.
“I’m not giving it up,” she said.
Hayden is adamant because she feels the city clerk and city treasurer — who receive the same salary — are both significantly underpaid compared to other department heads. Many aldermen agree, which is why the council in May 2008 granted the clerk and treasurer 9 percent raises starting May 1, 2009, which bumped their salaries to the current $59,276.
That still lags behind other department heads by a significant amount.
“I think we should make as much as the department heads,” Hayden said. “We’ll never catch up” by not accepting raises, she added.
A review of the city’s salary list — obtained from the city through a Freedom of Information Act request — shows Mayor John Spring, as expected, has the highest annual salary of all city employees this year: $91,550.
Hayden and Crim, on the other hand, are tied for 64th on the salary list. They lag behind not only other department heads but also many other city employees who earn more.
And this is strictly in base salary. Many of the employees earn considerably more in overtime and in compensation for accumulated sick days beyond the maximum amount that can be banked. Elected officials don’t get overtime and don’t accumulate sick days, nor are they allocated any certain number of vacation days.
On base salary alone, the list includes 12 people making $80,000 or more, including Spring.
Second on the list is Police Chief Rob Copley, who earns $87,252. Next in line are: Director of Administrative Services Gary Sparks, $85,402; Comptroller Ann Scott, $84,940; Director of Planning and Development Chuck Bevelheimer, $84,939; City Engineer Jeff Steinkamp, $84,939; Director of Utilities David Kent, $84,939; IT Director James Murphy, $84,939; Human Resources Director Doug Olson, $84,939; Deputy Police Chief Ronald Dreyer, $82,179; Fire Chief Joe Henning, $81,357; and Deputy Police Chief Curtis Kelty, $80,568.
Twelve people make between $70,000 and $80,000, while 24 others make between $60,000 and $70,000. Most, but not all, are police or fire employees.
Then comes a list of 95 people who earn between $50,000 and $60,000, with Hayden and Crim among them.