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Duluth City Council Reviews $20,000 Raise for Mayor

Updated: 11/22/2013 4:37 PM
Created: 11/21/2013 9:19 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson

City councilors are looking at a resolution that would raise Mayor Don Ness' annual base salary nearly $20,000.

Council documents show Ness' salary is currently $78,000. The resolution proposes raising his pay to $97,500.

If passed, the new salary would begin January of 2013, meaning the measure would include retro-pay.

"Whether I agree or any of us agree with everything he does is beside the point. He is a hands on mayor that does a really good job," said Councilor Sharla Gardner.

Councilor Gardner said her resolution may seem out of the blue, but it's an issue that seems to have been forgotten.

"The last time it was set and changed was January 3, 2000. So the last time it was looked at was in 1999," said Gardner.

Gardner said the figure she set of $97,500 is fair and is comparable to other cities. She took a look at city employee general wage increases since 2000. According to council documents, city employees received 11 raises over that time. Under that model, the mayor's salary should now be $103, 740, said Gardner.

The councilor also looked at mayor salaries of similar-sized cities with similar government systems, like Green Bay, Appleton, Milwaukee, and the Twin Cities.

Councilor Jim Stauber questioned the comparisons. He also asked the item to be pulled from the consent agenda.

"You are only comparing our mayor's salary to two cities in Minnesota, Minneapolis and St. Paul," he explained. "Is there more data?"

Gardner's resolution also includes the formation of a committee that would review the mayor's salary every two years. That way, she said, they wouldn't have to propose such a dramatic increase again.

Gardner said there is money in the General and Legislation Executive and Mayor's Office Fund for the raise. The council is expected to vote on the resolution this Monday.

The mayor was not involved in crafting the resolution, said Gardner.

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