Pay hikes sought for Detroit's elected officials

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — A series of pay raises are being sought for Mayor Mike Duggan, City Clerk Janice Winfrey and Detroit's nine council members. 

Detroit's City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on the proposal that calls for an immediate 3% increase in salary for the city's elected officials. Subsequently, Duggan, Winfrey and the council would get an additional 2.5% increase March 1, 2020, and 2.5% more on July 1, 2020, according to a resolution by the city's compensation board. 

Mike Duggan

Duggan currently earns $174,930 per year and Council President Brenda Jones is paid $86,967. Other council members and Winfrey make $82,749 annually, according to a chart prepared by the city's Human Resources Department. 

If approved, this will mark the third series of increases granted for the city's elected leaders since Detroit's bankruptcy exit in December 2014. 

After the incremental adjustments, Duggan's pay will top out at just over $189,000, Jones at $94,000, and the remaining council members and Winfrey near $89,500. 

Brenda Jones

The latest pay recommendations were adopted on Nov. 5 by the Elected Officials Compensation Commission which meets in odd years to evaluate the salaries of Detroit's elected officials. 

Commission members who attended the meeting could not be reached for comment.

The council must support the proposal by a two-thirds vote. If it is rejected, the existing salaries will prevail. The council's Internal Operations subcommittee on Wednesday moved the recommendations forward to the full council without discussion.

Winfrey, in an Oct. 24 letter to the commission, argued for a $30,000 pay bump that would have made her annual salary $112,000.

In her reasoning, Winfrey stressed the responsibilities of her duties as clerk and noted that her pay remains lower than other Michigan clerks that oversee far smaller budgets and voting operations.

Reached by The News Thursday, Winfrey declined to comment beyond the letter she submitted.

Janice Winfrey

Winfrey's letter cites figures reported in a recent Michigan Municipal League survey that show Southfield's clerk earns $101,500 annually and the clerk in Grand Rapids is paid $106,000 per year. 

The clerk's argument mirrored the case she made for an increase in 2017, noting she oversees a budget of nearly $13 million and about 200 full and part-time employees in addition to 8,000 poll workers and 637 voting precincts and absentee counting boards. 

She referenced 10% wage reductions imposed in 2010 amid the city's financial struggles and asked the commission to factor in the progress she's made as Detroit's clerk and "the added responsibility associated with operating the largest and most complex City Clerk and Elections operation in the State of Michigan."

Council members and Duggan did not submit letters to the commission requesting raises. Duggan's office had no comment Wednesday on the recommendations. 

Just after winning her fourth term in 2017, Winfrey asked the compensation board to grant her a $20,000 raise

In 2015, Winfrey and Jones called for a pay boost, citing, in part, the voluntary 10% pay reductions in 2010. 

The commission recommended raises for the city's elected officials in 2015 and 2017, which were subsequently approved by the council.

Prior to that, the salaries had not been increased by the commission since 2001-02.