Stories indexed with the term ‘local officers compensation commission’

Ann Arbor Mayor, Council Pay: No Action

No action was taken on salaries for Ann Arbor mayor and city councilmembers at the Dec. 16, 2013 meeting of the local officers compensation commission – because the commission failed to achieve a quorum. The current salaries, which have not been changed since 2008, are $42,436 for mayor and $15,913 for a councilmember.

It appears that the most likely outcome for this year is that those salaries will remain level for the next two years.

The LOCC meeting took place at 2:30 p.m. in the third floor conference room of the Ann Arbor city hall. Eunice Burns and Roger Hewitt are the only two members of the seven-member commission who are appointed and serving, and they both attended the meeting. Burns is a … [Full Story]

Column: What Do We Pay Ann Arbor’s Mayor?

Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje announced on Oct. 11, 2013 that he would not seek re-election to an eighth two-year term. That prompted Ann Arbor residents to begin speculating about who might seek election to that position in 2014. It’s a position that I think might just as well be called “chief pothole filler.” More on that in a bit.

History of Ann Arbor city councilmember and mayor salaries as determined and accepted/rejected by the Ann Arbor city council.

History of Ann Arbor city councilmember and mayor salaries as determined by a process involving the LOCC and the Ann Arbor city council.

One of the questions surely weighed by any potential candidate for Ann Arbor mayor is purely practical: What does the Ann Arbor mayor get paid? The $42,436 mayoral salary would, for some of us, represent a significant increase in annual income. For others, it would reflect a dramatic pay cut. A councilmember’s salary, at $15,913, is considerably less than the mayor’s.

My point in writing today is not to explore the policy question of mayoral or councilmember salaries. That’s a question ultimately determined by a public body called the local officers compensation commission (LOCC). The seven-member LOCC is supposed to meet every odd-numbered year and make a salary determination for the next two years. That determination takes effect unless rejected by the city council. If it’s rejected, then the salaries remain the same as they were.

A check of the calendar shows that this year is odd-numbered. And it turns out that as far as the LOCC is concerned, it is also an odd year. One odd thing is that the LOCC has not yet convened a meeting, with just about two weeks left in 2013. However, a notice came through from the city clerk’s office this week that a meeting of the LOCC is now scheduled for Dec. 16, 2013 at 2:30 p.m. in the third floor conference room of the Ann Arbor city hall – located at 301 E. Huron St. in downtown Ann Arbor.

The other odd thing is that if you attend that meeting, you will not see a seven-member public body convened around a conference room table deliberating toward a salary determination. Instead you’ll likely see just two commissioners – Eunice Burns and Roger Hewitt. The city’s online Legistar system shows them as the only members of the LOCC who have current appointments. Burns is a former city councilmember and a former member of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority (DDA) board. Hewitt currently serves on the DDA board. The DDA connection is coincidental.

So my point in writing is to reflect on this question: Why does anyone think it’s reasonable, let alone legal, that the seven-member body responsible for determining mayor and council salaries could convene a meeting – with only two members who are appointed and serving?  [Full Story]

No Raises for Ann Arbor Mayor, Council

Editor’s note: A Jan. 14, 2011 Ann Arbor Chronicle article on mayoral and councilmember compensation concluded with the following: “Sometime during 2011 it’s likely that the two vacancies on Ann Arbor’s local officers compensation commission will be filled. And when the year’s session schedule is announced, The Chronicle will add the LOCC’s sessions to its meeting coverage.”

During the course of 2011, mayor John Hieftje did not appoint anyone to fill the two vacancies. And since that time, a third vacancy has been added. However in this report, The Chronicle makes good on its promise to cover the commission’s only meeting this year.

Ann Arbor local officers compensation commission (Dec. 16, 2011): Salaries for Ann Arbor’s mayor and 10 city councilmembers will remain constant for the next two years at $42,436 and $15,913, respectively. That was the conclusion of the four members on the local officers compensation commission (LOCC), who met Friday morning for around a half hour.

Ann Arbor mayor and councilmember salaries from 2000 through 2013. The local officers compensation commission's recommendation, made at its Dec. 16, 2011 meeting, means that salaries will stay constant from 2009 through 2013. (Image links to higher resolution .jpg file)

Commission members cited the down economy as a main reason for not bumping the salaries higher. They discussed the fact that a flat salary, even with little inflation, translates into a pay cut – which was also a possibility they briefly mentioned.

The seven-member body currently has just four members, because no appointments have been made by the mayor to fill vacancies. Attending the meeting were Martha Darling, William Lockwood, Roger Hewitt and Eunice Burns. Hewitt chaired the commission two years ago when it last met, and he was again drafted by his commission colleagues to serve as chair this year.

The  LOCC is required to meet in odd-numbered years, so this year is a required meeting year. The LOCC makes a recommendation to the city council – a decision that automatically takes effect unless the city council votes to reject it. The council does not need to take affirmative action to approve the LOCC recommendation.  [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Council Service: What’s it Worth?

Editor’s note: At a mid-December 2010 film premiere in Ann Arbor, Kirk Westphal unveiled two of his latest works. The second of them he described as suitable for “true wonks” – “The Council-Manager Form of Local Government.” The movie is an introduction to how the council-manager system is different from a strong mayor system. The city of Ann Arbor uses a modified version of the council-manager form. One issue that arises in the film is cost: How do the two systems compare with respect to compensation?

In this article, The Chronicle takes a look at some of the recent history of compensation for Ann Arbor’s mayor and city councilmembers. The context for this reflection also stems in part from the fact that 2011, as an odd-numbered year, will be an occasion on which mayor and councilmember salaries are re-evaluated for 2012 and 2013.

As a minor part of his 2010 campaign for a Ward 5 city council seat, Newcombe Clark promised that if elected he would donate to charity the annual councilmember salary of $15,913. At a Main Street Area Association candidate forum, Clark gave this rationale for his promised salary donation: Negotiations with the city’s labor unions would be difficult, if councilmembers were collecting “a single dime” for something they should do on a volunteer basis.

For most Ward 5 voters, Clark’s promise and its premise were not a deciding factor, and Democrat Carsten Hohnke was re-elected on Nov. 2 to a second two-year term with 69% of the vote. The remaining 31% of the vote was split – 22% for Republican John Floyd and 9% for the independent Clark.

Still, based on last year’s city council budget discussions, current city councilmembers recognize that their own compensation is part of the relevant context for any financial sacrifices they might request of others. Last year, a council request for sacrifice came as the city was negotiating with the firefighters union to prevent layoffs, and as the council requested a reduction in non-union staff compensation by 3%. In that context, some councilmembers, including the mayor, announced a voluntary 3% salary giveback of their own. For councilmembers, that meant writing a $477 check, while for the mayor it represented $1,273. [The mayor's salary for 2010 is $42,436.]

So as the city council enters its budget planning phase for fiscal year 2012, compensation levels – for non-union and union labor alike, as well as for elected city officials – could become one focus of the conversation. That’s especially true, given that FY 2012 is the first year of a two-year budget planning cycle. Even though the council approves each year’s budget separately every May – for the fiscal year beginning July 1 – the planning takes place in two-year cycles. And it’s the first year of the planning cycle when the context is set for the second year.

Compensation for councilmembers and the mayor is also set on a two-year cycle, and 2011 will be a calendar year when a decision could be made to change their salaries. The every-odd-year session of the local officers compensation commission (LOCC) – the body that sets council and mayoral salaries – is prescribed by the state enabling statute on which the city’s LOCC ordinance is based.

With the LOCC scheduled to meet sometime in 2011, and with two current vacancies on the seven-member body, it’s a suitable time to reflect on: (1) the history of the LOCC’s recommendations over the last decade; (2) the rationale behind those recommendations; and (3) the way that expectations of the mayor and councilmembers have been implicitly defined through those recommendations. [Full Story]