Minneapolis park Superintendent Jayne Miller is due a modest raise under her employment contract that but no one noticed.
Her contract set the superintendent's salary at the maximum allowable figure under a state salary cap covering most public employees. That was $165,003 annually for the year that ended on June 30. Then she was due a raise by however much the state cap increased under its inflation clause.
Due to a low inflation rate of .2 percent for the period measured by the inflation readjustment, the annual raise for Miller and anyone else at the salary cap in 2016 is only $330.That's the lowest inflation-adjusted increase since 2010.
Her adjustment should have kicked in on July 1 under her contract.
But nobody noticed until the Star Tribune inquired, according to Dawn Sommers, a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board spokeswoman. Not even Miller. She told the Star Tribune in an e-mail that she was unaware that the salary cap is slightly higher than what's in her check.
Miller will also be due for another raise in mid-2017. But the amount won't be known until the state releases the inflation adjustment for 2017, a figure expected to be known by the end of the month.
How does the salary that Miller is paid for one of the nation's top-ranking municipal park systems compare with her peers? There's no broad salary survey of big-city park chiefs for comparison, according to checks with two national trade groups for public parks.
John Erwin, the Park Board president who negotiated Miller's first contract in 2010, believes that Miller is underpaid among her big-city peers. State law allows local governments to seek a waiver from the cap. Erwin said that Park Board didn't think that was appropriate during the Great Recession. Liz Wielinski, who followed him as chair, said that raising Miller's salary by too much could cause issues in negotiating raises with labor unions representing park workers.
However, one of the finalists who competed with Miller for the post in 2010, park director Steve Rhymer of Morgan Hill, Calif., was already earning $162,120 when he applied. He would have been required to take a pay cut of more than $12,000 to fit under the cap level applicable that year, absent a waiver. He's now paid $228,000 as city manager there.
Meanwhile, park officials released an updated figure on the annual cost of paying upkeep and utilities for the large Park Board-owned house that Miller rents from the system. The cost was $11,311 for 2015.
That means that the $13,848 annual rent that Miller pays barely covers the cost of occupancy. Of course, there would be some utility costs regardless of whether the house is occupied.