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City department heads slated for raises tied to scheduled union raises

By Philip Anselmo

Batavians can take some comfort in the fact that the City Council recently whittled down the proposed tax increase of 3.6 percent down to 2.17 percent, without really sacrificing any city services—the jury is still out on whether the ambulance flap will help or hinder us in the long run.

Nevertheless, some rumors are going around that the Council has instituted raises for all of the city department heads. We put the question to Council President Charlie Mallow this morning in an e-mail. He told us that "all city employees have mandated cost of living increases based on union contracts except seven administrative people." Mallow feels that it's unfair for those seven people not to receive the same sort of "increases"—he never used the word "raise"—as the rest of the union-backed employees.

His words:

There is a sense of right and wrong here. I do not believe non-union employees should be punished for not being part of a collective barging unit. Keep in mind that our administrative people have worked hand in hand with council to eliminate close to a $3 million dollar spending deficit in the last two years. The hard work of these administrative people reduced the size of city government. Some people out of sheer ignorance would like to single these people out; I think the rest of the community understands how far we have come and who helped us along the way.

Here are some of the budgeted figures listed under "personnel services"—does not include overtime, social security, supplies, etc.—for a few of the city's top offices (2008 and 2009):

• City Manager's Office: $103,629 (2008), $106,140 (2009)
• Bureau of Finance: $35,639 (2008), $39,040 (2009)
• Bureau of City Assessment: $33,624 (2008), $34,590 (2009)
• Bureau of Inspection: $138,246 (2008); $195,860 (2009)

Strangely, the "Bureau of the Clerk-Treasure" is scheduled for a reduction in its budget for personnel services in 2009. That office was listed at $64,212 in 2008; $60,790 has been listed for 2009.

Since the budget does not break down each city employee's salary into a tidy, comprehensible format, we asked Mallow if the Council had a document illustrating all of the changes that were effected. He replied: "A list of budget changes does not exist; it was a very fluid process." We then asked if the city could provide a list of every employee's salary for 2008 and the proposed salary for 2009. We're waiting on that.

More from Mallow:

The single most important thing behind this budget was planning for the future with a series of contingency funds. These funds will allow the city to save for future equipment purchases. Doing this will allow us to have a stable tax rate in the future and be less prone to large swings like we have seen in the past. People should understand that we have taken on the practices that businesses use every day. We plan, we have goals and we live within our budget.

Gabor Deutsch

If you use the word "deserve" a cost of living increase then I say, Yes, they do, just like any/everyone does. A cost of living increase is being issued for Social Security, and many other Government benifits that have nothing to do with performance or any clause that would be able to be based on "performance".
I think it is especially important in this time of economic chaios that you treat everyone with the same kind of adjustment, period. If whom you speak of are not earning their salaries then you vote them out.

Jan 30, 2009, 2:13pm Permalink
Mark Potwora

How can there be cost of living increases,when we are in a period of deflation. With all the unemployment going on and those that are working are being asked to freeze pay or take time off with out pay .Seems like the only people getting raises are those that collect government paychecks..Why not treat them like the private sector...Just wondering ,will the new building inspector be getting a raise already..Didn't he just start his job last month..How about the Fire and Police chief,they havent even been on the job for a year..Don't you think that those who just got a waiver not to have to live in the county or city should be raise enough..

Isn't it these same dept heads that sign on to these union contracts,thus insuring them self a raise..

Jan 30, 2009, 2:39pm Permalink
Charlie Mallow

Mark, I hear this about treating government employee’s like the private sector does. My answer to that is we did. I have worked in the corporate world my whole life. Department heads and directors get raises, great BIG ones every year, not just little cost of living increases. I have never held skilled white collar position were I did receive a small cost of living increase every year. The city has some really skilled administrators who could make a lot more in the private sector. Don’t get me wrong there are real benefits to working in the public sector but, we still have to be competitive to keep our people.

How about we spotlight these people for the work they have done in the last two years. They have done the bull work in getting our city back from financial disaster. We had a $2.8 Million dollar deficit two short years ago.

As for stagflation, I don’t see that, my monthly expenses are not getting lower. Are yours? Every bill I have is more this year.

Jan 30, 2009, 8:02pm Permalink
Howard B. Owens

There's pay freezes going on in both public and private all over the place. It's not unusual.

Here's <a href="">a small town in PA with a pay freeze</a>. In Texas, one company is asking employees to take <a href="… cuts</a>. In Des Moines, the <a href="… manager</a> has volunteered for a pay freeze. AT&T's CEO turned down his 2008 bonus and implemented <a href="… freezes</a> for 120,000 managers.

I'm not suggestion one way or another what the city should do. Based on the budget numbers, maybe a case could be made the senior staff are underpaid. However, pay freezes in both the public and private sector are not unusual.

Jan 30, 2009, 8:13pm Permalink
Beth Kinsley

Like Charlie, I have also never not had a yearly pay raise but, I have also never been through an economic downturn such as this. I know that in July, when our raises come out, I am not expecting one. I am an intellectual property paralegal and my job depends on corporate America and small businesses. They are the ones filing the patent and trademark applications. At this point, I am just grateful to have a job. VERY grateful.

Jan 30, 2009, 8:45pm Permalink
Mark Potwora

Charlie..thanks for the reply but just because they did what they were hired to do, that means they get a raise..My point was also some of those people haven't even been on the job long enough to get a raise..And if every year all employees of the city get this 3% raise, then i guess you are telling us that taxes will go up every year because you have wage increases ..The private sector is letting personal go,So i dont buy into that argument that they could make more in the private sector..Alot of them dont even want to live here..And we should give them a raise..

Jan 30, 2009, 9:23pm Permalink
Gabor Deutsch

The ridiculous amount of money the government has to keep pumping into our failed economy is not balancing with the amount of jobs being lost or the cost of living increases. When the dollar power drops in value it will be stagflation and once your in it prices never go up or down for long.

Jan 31, 2009, 12:53am Permalink

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