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Buttigieg seeks to increase salary cap maximum for key city positions

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – It took Mayor Pete Buttigieg less than a week to have Common Council members upset over his proposed policies.

Wednesday, Buttigieg filed a proposed ordinance that seeks to increase the maximum salary caps for several top city positions.

Those positions include City Controller from $85,930 to $94,500; City Engineer from $76,414 to $94,500; City Attorney from a part time position paying $56,654 to a full time position paying $94,500; Director, Public Works from $82,758 to $108,248; Director, Human Resources from $63,154 to $80,002 and; Director of Information Technology from $68,354 to $87,000.

To compare, here is a list of some city positions in Gary, Indiana, and the approximate salary attached to them:

City Controller - $55,000

City Attorney (full time) - $53,000

Director of Public Works - $56,000

Director of Human Resources - $35,000

Buttigieg's ordinance would also create a new position, Deputy City Controller, that would be paid $72,000.

The Mayor does rename several positions, and cuts five percent from the salary of one of the former Assistant to the Mayor positions, now titled Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor.

The request to raise pay caps has received opposition from several common council members including Vice President, and District 6 representative, Oliver Davis.

Davis is not buying into the rhetoric that highly qualified people will only be enticed to take the jobs if the salary caps are raised. “People come into government jobs for service, to serve people as a public service. We understand that. Therefore, the idea of us coming to get rich off the government is not something that we plan to do,” said Davis.

Buttigieg is not interested in taking the chance highly skilled and experienced people will give up lucrative private sector jobs to take a pay cut and serve the community out of the goodness of their heart. “I want to hire people with the experience and ability to handle multi-million dollar decisions for the city, and that takes good pay,” said Buttigieg in a written statement released Wednesday night.

The statement goes on to read, “I gave up my own pay raise, but these other salaries need to catch up to the times. South Bend deserves great results, and we can’t do that if our compensation stays behind other cities.”

In addition to the need, Buttigieg says the increase in maximum caps would not cost the city a dime. “These adjustments are already paid for, from funds that the Council already approved in last year’s budget,” wrote Buttigieg.

Davis, meanwhile, does not agree with how the new mayor is handling this business.

Some of the Common Council’s biggest gripes with the former City Administration were a lack of communication; feeling blindsided by issues and given little information and; being rushed into making hasty decisions at the last minute.

Davis says, he sees some of those same issues already popping up with this new administration.

This new proposal will be introduced at the Common Council’s next public meeting, Monday, for a first reading. A second and third reading could come at the following meeting, close to the end of the month.

Some council members say, this proposal mimics one former Mayor Steve Luecke put forward last year. The council was not interested in accommodating the Luecke’s plan then, and may be just as disinclined this time around as well.

Davis even goes so far as to warn Buttigieg about being too aggressive with taxpayer dollars, especially since recent tax hikes are still sore spots for many residents. “When you [raise taxes] you have to be very prudent and very cautious of when you go back and say, ‘Now we have a lot of money to raise salaries,” you know, that’s not always received well,” said Davis.

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