The Star's Rishawn Biddle thinks the proposal "reeks." He writes at Expresso:
Speaking of city-county council Democrats and the perception of enjoying the spoils of power a little too freely, council President Monroe Gray, majority leader Lonnell Conley and council vice president Joanne Sanders, are introducing an ordinance at tonight's meeting that would give a three-percent raise to 16 countywide and township officials next year.
How nice of them to spend the taxpayer's money on raises in a period in which the council's past inattention to public safety is rearing its ugly head in the form of rising crime. How smart of them to do this just before the ramp-up to their campaign to keep control of the council. How prudent of them, given the city's myriad fiscal straits, including borrowing $53 million to cover its portion of the child welfare budget and underfunded police and fire pensions. And how curious that the raise comes as the Democrats have captured almost all the countywide offices and three township assessor spots -- and after criticizing Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, a Republican, of taking a state-granted pay raise during his re-election bid against another Democrat, Melina Kennedy.
Actually, it's neither nice, smart or fiscally responsible. Nor is it all that coincidental that the raise is benefitting a mostly-Democrat group of officeholders. It just plain reeks.
I don't recall any of the Democratic candidates for countywide office advocating a pay raise during the past election. I'm sure they will all gladly accept the raise though. I would add that none of these officials, with the exception of the sheriff, is overly paid, but the timing isn't very good given the current financial woes of Marion County. The salary for the sheriff does not appear to be capped, rather it is whatever amount is authorized by ordinance or contract. That could become a point of contention. He is already the highest paid elected official in the state of Indiana with a pay of at least $360,000. He gave up a $50,000 pay raise he negotiated with the county earlier this year after the public learned of it.
Another proposal introduced by Councilors Brown, Oliver and Conley would transfer $25,000 in the coroner's office budget to fund salaries for coroner employees who work in support of the forensic pathologists. County Coroner Kenneth Ackles has come under fire recently for his decision to terminate the coroner's 5-year contract with Pathology Associates of Indiana, which performs all of Marion County's autopsies, as well as about 20 other counties in central Indiana. Ackles claims the move will save money because he intends to hire new pathologists as employees of his office at a reduced cost. The contract terminates on December 19, but Ackles concedes he has not yet hired any replacement forensic pathologists. Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's office is alarmed by Ackles' move. His office is currently investigating potential wrongdoing in Ackles' office.
UPDATE: The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette is reporting that Mayor Graham Richard (D) has proposed a new ordinance which would give him a 30% increase in pay, while increasing pay for council members and the city clerk by 3%. The $30,000 increase in pay would take his salary to $135,000. Richard only has one year left in his term, but I suspect the pay boost might have an impact on the pension he will eventually draw. Because he is not seeking re-election, he doesn't seem concerned about the political fallout from the salary boost.