By SHERRI KOLADE
DEARBORN — Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. does not agree with a Feb. 20 Mackinac Center for Public Policy column that discusses 2011 salaries of Dearborn’s city employees.
The report (see story Page 6-A) is described as “inaccurate” in a Feb. 23, press release from the city of Dearborn.
The Mackinac report published by the Center’s publication, Capitol Confidential, described the mayor as telling Dearborn residents they would have to pay higher taxes because of “severe budget issues” but details seven top administrations who received significant gross income increases ranging from 8 to 12.8 percent from 2010 to 2011.
“They printed it as if those were salary increases between 2010 and 2011,” O’Reilly said. “We gave them additional information to explain what they were looking at but they didn’t care.”
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy’s legislative analyst Jack McHugh said “When they’re pushing tax hikes, residents hear a lot from local government officials about ‘shared sacrifice.’ These figures give the appearance that the sharing stops at the City Hall door.”
O’Reilly said those facts were highly misconstrued and that retroactive pay was given all at once in 2011, contributing to the seemingly huge pay increase in comparison to 2010. The report based its facts on seven top administrations who “saw their gross income increase by 8 percent to 12.8 percent from 2010 to 2011.”
“Those pay increases came when the city’s General Fund had a structural budget deficit of $8.6 million for fiscal year 2011,” the report said. “Not all of the city of Dearborn’s workers were as fortunate.”
The report included seven directors’ salaries from 2006 through 2012 including Economic and Community Development, Finance, Information Systems, Public Information, Public Works, Recreation and the executive assistant to the mayor.
The 2011 department head salaries ranged from $85,000 to $112,000.
The mayor’s salary stayed about the same while his gross income increased in 2011 by $500 from 2010.
2011 raises were similar to union-negotiated pay increases. There were not any salary increases approved from 2007 to 2010. There will not be any pay increases in 2012, O’Reilly said.
The mayor added that salary increases for mayoral-appointed department heads are not made by him but are outlined in the city charter that gives appointees a set salary with approval from the council.
“In our charter once every election the mayor only has so much time after they are elected to set the salary levels for all your appointed positions,” he said, adding, “I think our charter does an excellent job of making sure that you can’t get salary increases without real structure. The mayor doesn’t have excessive control over it and the council can’t use it as a political issue. It is taken totally out of politics.”
The press release from the city of Dearborn added that the last two opportunities to set department head salaries were in 2006 after the death of Mayor Michael Guido and in 2010 after O’Reilly was elected.
(Sherri Kolade may be reached at [email protected].)