WIUM Local
9:02 pm
Mon October 26, 2009

Aldermen Reject Mayoral Pay Cut

Macomb, IL – A plan to cut the mayor's pay and make other changes at Macomb City Hall were shot down by aldermen during their October 26 Committee of the Whole meeting.

The recommendations are in a memo written by Aldermen Tim Lobdell and Dennis Moon. They say the changes would save money and prevent those elected to office from trying to micromanage the professional staff.

Lobdell suggested the city council start the process by hiring outside legal counsel to review some of the recommendations. But the idea was rejected on a headcount of five-to-three.

Ryan Hansen, Ed Lavin, Lou Gilbert, Mike Inman and Clay Hinderliter opposed the plan.

Lobell, Dave Dorsett, and Don Wynn supported it. Moon was absent from the meeting.

After the meeting, Lobdell said, "I'm highly disappointed that we don't even want to get informed about the options that are available to us."

Those opposed questioned whether the proposals would provide solutions.

You can listen to an interview with Lobdell by clicking on the audio button.

Here is the memo in its entirety:

To: City Council

From: Alderman Moon and Alderman Lobdell

Subject: Personnel Recommendations

Date: October 23, 2009

CC: Mayor, City Clerk, City Attorney & Department Heads

The purpose of the following recommendations are the result of a holistic review of city services, departmental responsibilities, salary structure and the impact of expected fiscal deficits on the day-to-day operations of the city. These recommendations are a proactive attempt to address known organizational challenges and also provide the City of Macomb better flexibility to address unexpected problems.

The greatest deficiency in the day-to-day operation of the city appears to be communication. Effective and efficient communication is limited by city services that are carried out from eight separate buildings. Technological improvements can address some of these concerns, but training must be provided to take full advantage of the investments made. Toward that end, employee evaluation should account for knowledge and usage of any efficiency tools.

Chain of command issues have existed at all levels of the city for quite some time. While positive steps have been taken in the police, fire and public works departments to address some of these concerns, city hall remains a problem. Our goal should be to find an effective interpretation of the roles of elected officials and appointed staff.

Everyone agrees that elected officials are supposed to set policy, approve expenditures and to make sure the taxpayers are being served in the most effective and efficient manner possible. In fact, prior city councils have taken steps to professionalize city government through the creation of the City Administrator and Public Works Director positions, reconfiguration of the City Council, implementation of the Unified Development Code and restructuring of various city departments and responsibilities.

While a great deal of progress has been made, there still exists a temptation on the part of many elected officials to direct the day-to-day decision making process. We have given the problem a great deal of consideration and feel that the best solution is to adjust elected salaries, and responsibilities, where appropriate, to better reflect the arms length' approach necessary to professionally administer city operations.

In addition to the communication and managerial issues cited, we likely face financial challenges in the short term, which include revenue declines in the state income tax, sales tax and motor fuel tax receipts, rising health care costs and our experimental commitment to a 10 hour shift schedule in the police department.

Other possible financial impacts include changes to state revenue sharing formula and loss of per capita revenue based on the timing of the census count.

Many of these financial challenges may come to pass, but one challenge we know we must address is the escalating cost of employing the people who carry out city services. Some steps have already been implemented; elimination of longevity for new hires, thinning of the workforce through attrition and the early retirement program (admittedly to mixed reviews.) The reality is, however, that more action is required to achieve a more effective and efficient workforce. Toward that more productive end, we propose these recommendations:

Financial/Restructuring

1) That compensation for elected officials be changed to encourage less day-to-day management.

a) Mayor $25,000 - increase travel budget by $7500
b) Clerk $20,000 - Alternatively, explore option of appointed position
c) City Council $1,250 - no phone allowance; eliminate access to city health care plan

2) That the office of City Attorney be re-established in place of Corporate Counsel and legal services be brought back into City Hall.

3) That the position of Public Works Director be made a salaried position and no longer an appointed one.

4) That the administrative secretary be assigned a minimum workload of 75% to the City Administrator's office with the balance made available to the Mayor's office.

5) That the Deputy Clerk position be changed to a full-time position under direct supervision of the City Administrator. (Depending on 1-b above)

6) That all remaining non-statutory responsibilities be relocated from the City Clerk's office to the Business office. In any case, all personnel functions should be transferred.

7) All calls to city hall should be routed through reception. Publication of directory information should be revised and service need should be reevaluated to potentially reduce the number of lines necessitated. The possibility of routing other building calls through reception should also be explored.

8) All managerial decisions are to be routed through the City Administrator with the advice and consent of the Mayor and City Council where appropriate. Failure to do so will result in disciplinary action against the employee.

9) The hiring and firing of all employees below the level of department head no longer needs the blessing of the council provided all employment laws, regulations and contracts are adhered to. The City Administrator shall be given sole responsibility for these decisions with the City Council retaining compensation responsibilities.

10) All personnel concerns below department head are subject to the four levels of employee conduct evaluation and discipline. Supervisors are required to follow these procedures as outlined in the city personnel manual.

Productivity

1) That city-wide networking upgrades continue to maximize efficiency and effectiveness of communication. Basic training should be mandated on all communication tools for all employees regardless of perceived need.

2) That a payroll software package be researched and purchased to replace the current archaic system.

3) That the police department assist the zoning department with citation and enforcement of common property code violations.

4) That all city officials and employees note construction activities in their neighborhoods, their routes to work and on their job assignments. Non-permitted construction equates to a reduction in the revenue that contributes to their salary.