Buttigieg proposing salary increases for some city employees

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg will introduce a bill at Monday's Common Council meeting asking for an adjustment in several city employees' salaries.

The bill proposes increasing the salaries of the city controller, city engineer, city attorney, director of public works, executive director of community and economic development, director of human resources and director of information technology. The difference between the current and proposed salaries ranges from $1,732 to $37,846.

The biggest raise will go to the city attorney, who will be moving from a part-time to full-time position.

Buttigieg says the increases will help South Bend attract top talent to the city in the future.

"One of the things I've found in the hiring process is that South Bend is behind the times in what we offer for salaries for some key positions," Buttigieg said. "Some people that I've interviewed for critical jobs have baulked when they've discovered that they would be in a comparable position in a bigger city making less money."

If passed, the increase in salaries will be paid for by transferring money from other line-items in the city's existing 2012 budget.

"What i'm not asking the council to do is spend new money," Buttigieg said. "All of this has already been paid for and it's being transferred from accounts that have already been approved."

But that doesn't make the bill anymore appealing to councilman Oliver Davis. Davis says the council considered a similar pay package proposed by Buttigieg's predecessor, Steve Luecke, in November.

"When it comes down to the amount of the salary changes, I had some concerns with that," Davis said. "Especially because we had just discussed this in our budget plans for last year. And when we had that same proposal come before us, we deleted it from the budget."

Davis says an increase in pay isn't needed to attract highly-qualified applicants to South Bend. And, at this time, he doesn't find it appropriate.

Neither does South Bend resident Jennifer Hock, who says workers at her husband's company turned down raises because it meant everyone would keep their jobs. Whether the city has the money or not, she says it could be put to better use.

"I think it maybe needs to be saved for a rainy day when it's needed somehwere else," Hock said. "Or maybe it can be used to create jobs."

But resident Leslee Onnink says she understands where the mayor's coming from; the lower the pay scale, the less-experienced the applicants will be. But that doesn't mean the pay scale should be automatically bumped up.

"I think that if people are doing their job and they're oding a good job, they should be reawarded for it," Onnink said. "I don't think it necessarily should have to do with surrounding communities and what they should get paid."

The bill does propose a slight decrease in salary for the deputy chief of staff to the mayor, from $65,442 to $62,170.

It also introduces a new position, deputy city controller. Buttigieg suggests a salary of $72,000 for the new job.

The first reading of the bill will be at Monday's council meeting. The council could vote on the measure Jan. 23.

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