Pay hikes weighed for Detroit officials

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — The city’s compensation commission is expected to decide by late April if Detroit’s elected officials will get a pay hike.

The seven-member Detroit Elected Officials Compensation Commission will meet several times in the coming weeks and ultimately has 45 days to decide the compensation of Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, City Council members, City Clerk Janice Winfrey and members of the Board of Police Commissioners.

Council President Brenda Jones made a case for raises at a commission hearing Wednesday. During budget hearings on Thursday morning, she told Duggan’s staff that the compensation issue is “very sensitive.”

“I’m extremely sensitive to it. I don’t have any problem speaking up for myself. None whatsoever,” Jones said, adding she’s been with the city for 10 years and her pay has gone down based on voluntary concessions to help the financially struggling city.

On Wednesday, Jones told the compensation commission of her lengthy work days that frequently exceed 12 hours. She mentioned that the council hasn’t had a raise since 2001 and took a voluntary 10 percent pay reduction in 2010. Also, Jones informed the group of how her role has changed as a result of the city’s historic bankruptcy, her office confirmed.

Duggan will not be seeking a raise, administration officials said. Winfrey, who addressed the compensation commission Wednesday along with Jones, was not available to talk with The News on Thursday, her office staff said.

Former Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr instituted a 5 percent pay increase last year for Duggan, council members and other non-union city workers. Orr also reached a five-year agreement with a coalition of city unions that outlined restorations for 3,500 workers who had wages frozen in 2010 and later slashed by 10 percent.

Orr’s move bumped the mayor’s annual pay from $158, 559 to $166,487 per year.

Council members had been making $73,181 and the council president was paid $76,911. With the increase, the totals were $76,840 and $80,757 for Jones.

The 5 percent increases, however, were offset that July by a new mandatory 5 percent pension contribution, the council’s fiscal staff said.

President Pro Tem George Cushingberry Jr., in a text to The News, said he believes that the council “should have its cut restored,” as most union employees have. He also noted that after this the compensation commission won’t convene again until 2017.

Detroit Corporation Counsel Melvin Hollowell said the commission on Wednesday unanimously approved a series of resolutions on how it will proceed. Input will be sought from the council, mayor, police commissioners and clerk.

Additionally, it is asking Detroit’s Human Resources Department to study compensation in other cities.

Commission members also want information from the city’s Law Department on the impact of the bankruptcy and whether their decision on raises is subject to the approval of the state-mandated Financial Review Commission.

Hollowell added Thursday that Duggan does not intend to address the commission about his pay.

“The mayor has indicated that he’s fine with his salary and is not going to be seeking an increase,” Hollowell said.

Duggan isn’t going to weigh in either on whether Detroit’s other elected leaders should get higher pay.

“He believes that the commission is independent and should conduct its own business independently, using all of its diligence,” he said.

The compensation commission meets in odd-numbered years . It has a 45-day window to make a decision and set meetings for March 16, 23 and 30. The deadline for making its decision is April 20, Hollowell said.