Debate over city employee raises heats up in South Bend

Salaries for South Bend city employees were revealed at Monday night’s common council meeting and some could be seeing a lot more green in 2014.

One employee is poised to get a more than $20,000 raise next year.
City controller Mark Neal said that the intention is to offer employees competitive pay and recruit top talent to South Bend.

Neal cited hiring issues as a result of low salaries.

“We have a Water Works director position that has been vacant for over a year because we have not been able to recruit top candidates to the city,” Neal said.

Budget documents show that Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s chief of staff netting $90,000 in 2014 – a 34.8 percent increase from 2013.

“Looking at other chiefs of staff through the state we wanted to make sure the pay was commensurate,” Neal said. “Also we looked at pay equity. The chief of staff is the mayor’s right hand, very similar to a department head.”

Large pay increases are also slated for the zoo director and the chief code inspector, up 65 percent and 15 percent respectively.

“We are looking at all the positions and saying ‘What is the appropriate pay level?’” Neal said.

Some common council members voiced their concern about giving raises to top positions while the majority of city employees will only be getting a two percent raise.

“If you’re going to do it for department heads, you better do that for the employees,” said Derek Dieter, president of the South Bend Common Council. “If you bring one level up, you have to bring all of them up.”
The new position of deputy mayor is listed with a salary of $98,000 per year.

The salary discussion was tabled until October 28.

“To see such a sizable difference between a majority of the employees and this one particular employee just didn’t make sense,” said third district representative Valerie Schey.

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