Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Truth About Mayor Whaley's Salary Freeze

The City of Dayton has a compensation board made up of five people who meet once a year between August and November to discuss the compensation of the mayor and commissioners. The members of this board serve four year terms. One member must be from organized labor, one from business, two from a citizen participation organization and one from the community at large. The compensation board was voted into the city charter in 1982. Early in 2010 I proposed that the commissioners and myself take a pay cut since things were looking bad for the City at that time. Joey Williams had no problem with the idea but felt that Commissioner Whaley and Commissioner Lovelace might since their salary was their only source of income. So nothing happened and the subject died until later that year when the compensation board met and I was asked to meet with them.

So I was asked by the compensation board if I agreed with their recommendation of "no increase" for the salaries of the city commission. I told them that they should require us to take a pay cut since the rest of city staff were being asked to take a 3% cut in order to keep their jobs. The look on some of their faces was priceless. I think I actually earned respect from one of them. All were appointed by the former mayor of course and none demonstrated any loyalty to me. They decided that they would recommend there would be no increase to the city commission regardless of my opinion. However, the word got out that I proposed a decrease and the four commissioners realized that if the recommendation of the compensation board was brought up at a public commission meeting then my recommendation would also come up and I would look like a hero in the eyes of the public. Since their mission was to get Commissioner Whaley elected as mayor in 2013, they had to prevent me from becoming popular. So it was agreed that we should voluntarily reduce our salaries in line with the rest of the staff. This made us all look good in the local news and the compensation board never presented their recommendation in 2010. So the whole pay reduction would never have happened if I had not forced the issue with the compensation board recommendation.We voluntarily reduced our salaries again for 2012 so the compensation board recommendation was never public. In 2013 we passed a budget granting staff pay increases. So in 2013 we did not reduce our salaries a third time. They went back to  2010 levels.

I got to appoint three members of the compensation board during my lame duck administration in August 2013. Having worked with the commissioners for almost four years I got to see first hand how little they actually do with regards to initiating policy. None of them did the very basic job of reading the agenda material every week. I know this because I appeared to be the only member of the commission that found the mistakes. Most were typo errors but some of them were big money mistakes or piss poor math calculations. I always got them fixed before the Wednesday meeting so no one would be embarrassed publicly. There were a few meetings where the commissioners asked questions that indicated they had never read the material. If they had, they would not have asked the questions they did.

I specifically told my appointed board members not to recommend an increase in salary because this commission did nothing outstanding to deserve it. They did it anyway because they felt we had
handled the recession very well. I would not benefit from any increase since the voters had elected Commissioner Whaley to be the next mayor when the recommendation of the compensation board came before the commission at a public meeting in November 2013. In a 4 - 1 vote the commissioners voted to increase their salaries. I was the NO vote. Nan Whaley had campaigned on the fact that she had taken a pay cut during her term. (You now know why she took the pay cut and that it was for only two years.) When I challenged her on this at that public meeting she agreed that since she had campaigned about this issue that she would not take the pay increase. So, in 2014 her salary increased by some $7,000 as a result of becoming mayor and while she has frozen her  mayor salary at the 2013 level and not taken any of the  subsequent pay increases she has cost the tax payer much more money by attending many charity dinners and benefits that the commission office has to pay for. Those tickets are not free. She has also taken trips to several sister cities and attends several meetings around the country associated with the US Conference of Mayors and the National League of Cities. Those trips are paid for with income tax dollars. If she is re-elected in 2017 she will release her salary freeze and be compensated at the 2018 level for the mayor's compensation. She will continue to spend tax dollars on travel and events so that she can be seen in public and give people the impression that she is actually working when in fact she is socializing and scheming.

So I noticed that this year the mayor appointed three new members to the compensation board. My three appointees have been replaced in the third year of their four year term. Interesting. These new board members recommended a pay increase the same year that the administration got an income tax levy increase passed. I was pleased to see that Joey Williams voted "NO" on the pay increase. This is the first time I have ever seen him vote NO on a city commission item and the first time I have seen Ms. Whaley vote in disagreement. Maybe there is hope yet but in all of his 15 years on the commission he has only really done two things that stand out. He initiated monthly financial briefs and he initiated the community police council in July 2011. (Only after Kylen English leaped off the Third Street bridge while escaping from a police cruiser.)