Eight high-ranking Minneapolis city employees could see big raises after the state gave the city permission to lift salary caps.
Speaking to the Legislature’s Subcommittee on Labor Relations on Thursday, two Minneapolis human resources officials asked that the state raise the limit on pay for the police chief, city coordinator, city attorney, director of public works, director of planning development, chief financial officer, convention center coordinator and chief information officer.
Eden Prairie asked for permission to pay its city manager more, and the Minneapolis Parks Board asked for permission to lift the cap on pay for the parks superintendent.
The cap on municipal employee pay is 110 percent of the governor’s salary ($127,629) plus inflation since 2005, the last time the governor’s salary was increased. Any local government that wants to pay an employee more than $167,978 must get a waiver from Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), which forwards a proposal to the Subcommittee on Labor Relations for an advisory recommendation.
The state budget agency accepted the city’s proposal and said Minneapolis can pay Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, now earning $167,978, as much as $200,000. City Coordinator Spencer Cronk, who now makes $173,355, could make as much as $200,000, and the salary caps for the other six city officials would rise by between $10,000 and $20,000.
The city’s presentation to the subcommittee said “the compensation rates necessary to attract and retain the talent needed in the top positions in jurisdictions like the City the Minneapolis has grown beyond the current constraints of the statute.”
The state agency did not grant the full request for the directors of planning and development or public works, chief information officer or convention center coordinator, but granted the city higher salary caps in each case.
The proposal was greeted coolly by some members of the Subcommittee on Employee Relations on Thursday, and they couldn’t come to an agreement and made no recommendation. That means the MMB proposal goes into effect in mid-December.
“We couldn’t come to a consensus,” said Rep. Marion O’Neill, R-Maple Lake, the subcommittee chairwoman.
She said the market analysis the city used to make its salary ranges was questionable, and she objected to the magnitude of the increases.
“There’s this philosophy in Minnesota that they shouldn’t be paying exceptionally more than the governor, which is exactly what they’re doing,” O’Neill said.
The nearly $30,000 increase to the salary cap for parks superintendent was particularly troubling, said O’Neill, since the job oversees about half as many employees as the police chief and gets 30 days of vacation. “I had a really hard time with that,” O’Neill said.
Local governments have requested 67 waivers to the municipal salary cap since 1997, and 22 of them have been denied, according to a subcommittee memo. None of the nine requests since Gov. Mark Dayton took office has been denied.
Higher salary caps do not necessarily mean higher salaries. The Minneapolis City Council will mark up its 2018 budget on Friday, and will adopt the budget on Dec. 6.