How much is the Dayton City Commission costing you?

With huge budget cuts from the state, cuts in federal stimulus funds, and a shrinking population and tax base, cities are facing squeezes all over.

Tipp News Daily had an article about their council cutting health insurance as a benefit for themselves:

Tipp City Council Member Joe Gibson is proposing that the City eliminate health insurance coverage for members of city council effective the end of this year.

via Councilman Gibson Proposes Elimination of Council Health Insurance for Tipp City Council | TippNews DAILY.

Which got me thinking- how much are we paying our very part-time city commission? When I first ran for office 18 years ago, the mayor’s position paid $36,000. The commissioners made around $28,000. They also had a city car, health insurance and were eligible for a pension with 20 years’ service (that’s the main reason Dean Lovelace is running again- he’s 2 years short).

The salaries now from the very helpful Executive Assistant to the Commission:

The mayor’s salary by ordinance is $45,344.00 and you are correct that he has chosen to reduce his pay by 1.92% for 2010; the adjusted salary is $44,470.40.

The commissioners’ salary by ordinance is $37,315.20 and you are correct that each has chosen to reduce his or her pay by 1.92% for 2010; the adjusted salary is $36,608.00.

They still get health insurance and pension eligibility. I believe the cars are gone- but, you still can put a placard in your windscreen and get free parking “On Commission Business” (yep, I have a photo of Matt Joseph’s car at a meter for a presentation on the Downtown Dayton Plan- he wouldn’t kick .75 into the meter).

When I ran in 1993 I thought the salaries were too high;

GETTING YOUR MONEYS WORTH
The mayor’s job is a part-time job. When I’m elected you will have someone who works hard for your money. I will contribute half the $36,000 a year pay to return us to neighborhood schools. Then we can start getting serious about making this city great again. I will punch a clock. An hour Mon.-Fri. in the schools, 2 hours each Mon., Tue. and Thu. in the neighborhoods, 12 hours on Wed. all over, and 6 hours on Saturday. Every fifth weekend I will go to see my grandmother in Cleveland. I will take 3 weeks off a year to relax. I won’t take trips to Germany or Japan on your tab like somebody else.

Obviously my view of public service is a little different than that of the current commissioners. It’s something you do to make a difference, to change the world- not fill your pockets. In a city where $18K is still, 18 years later, probably closer to the average annual take home of our residents, being paid $37K for a part-time job, with benefits is insulting.

But, that’s not all- the commissioners have a shadow commission- full-time employees that manage them. Yep, instead of paying them for “full-time” work- we pay someone else, plus their salaries:

The Clerk of Commission was hired in that position on January 5, 2009. at an annual salary of $79,705.60 and has received no pay raises since that time. In fact, this person is taking the 1.92% pay reduction for 2010, as are most City of Dayton employees.  The Clerk of Commission is hired by the City Commission and is supervised by the Executive Assistant to the Commission.

As Executive Assistant to the Commission, I was hired in that position on January 5, 2009, at an annual salary of $89,294.40 and have received no pay raises since that time. In fact, I am taking the 1.92% pay reduction for 2010, as are most City of Dayton employees.

There are three Legislative Aides who provide assistance to the 5 members of the Commission (the Mayor and 4 Commissioners.)

The first Legislative Aide was hired in that position on May 11, 2009, at an annual salary of $39,000 and has received no pay raises since that time.  In fact, this person is taking the 1.92% pay reduction for 2010, as are most City of Dayton employees.

The second Legislative Aide was hired in that position on January 19, 2010, at an annual salary of $41,995.20 and has received no pay raises since that time.  In fact, this person is taking the 1.92% pay reduction for 2010, as are most City of Dayton employees.

The third Legislative Aide was hired in that position on August 23, 2010, at an annual salary of $38,854.40 and has received no pay raises since that time.  In fact, this person is taking the 1.92% pay reduction for 2010, as are most City of Dayton employees.

All of the Legislative Aides are hired by and report to the Executive Assistant to the Commission.

That’s $209,143.80 in full-time support pay, for a mayor and commissioners who only make: $194,604.80 for their part-time positions. The Clerk of the Commission’s salary is left out- because it’s a position that is called for by the Charter. The Clerk was supposed to be the administrative support for the board of directors- the commission, who were supposed to just set policy and evaluate the City Manager and give him direction.

Arguments could be made that we could save considerable money by eliminating all the assistants- it was the “Executive assistant to the Commission” that was out collecting the campaign contributions for Mayor McLin during her last campaign when the bomb squad was called to her vacant former home/campaign HQ.

Or, we could pay for full time commissioners and a mayor- but, that would be more like a strong-mayor system- subverting the power of the city manager. Or- we could pay our city manager more- and expect more, defocusing the attention on the mayor and the commission.

There is no reason for all of these aides- or the salary we pay the current commission. We could cut the commissions’ pay in half- or more, and ask them to make more of an effort to put the city manager into the role of CEO.

If you look at the combined cost of our commission pay with the aides- it’s $403,708.60. Throw in the insurance, pensions, cell phones, health care, IT support etc.  and we’re spending close to a million a year to have 5 directors for city manager making $150 a year plus benefits. Never mind the money wasted on political campaigns to elect the five members of the royal council.

Could we do something more efficiently? Do you have suggestions? Is a strong mayor the answer?

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