DETROIT (WWJ) It sends the wrong message. That’s what Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano said Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr needs to understand about the pay raises he just approved for the mayor, city council and other non-union city workers.
Effective July 1, they all get 5 percent raises. Before the raise, Mayor Mike Duggan earned $158,000 a year, and Detroit’s nine at-large council members made $73,181 each, along with a pension, cell phone, city car and city-paid gasoline.
By comparison, the median household income in Detroit was $25,193 in 2011, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Orr’s own salary of $275,000 a year to guide Detroit through the largest municipal bankruptcy case in history will not change.
Ficano, no stranger to financial scandal himself, feels Orr should wait until the final tab for the Chapter Nine process can be tallied before he starts doling out bigger paychecks.
“We’re still in the middle of bankruptcy, we still don’t know what the cost is going to be, and it seems like the attorney fees, right now, have gone up to $75 million,” Ficano said live on WWJ 950 Wednesday morning.
Orr’s office says the costs for the increases are covered in the city’s restructuring plan, which is pending in federal bankruptcy court. Later this month, some of those same workers will see larger paycheck deductions earmarked for increased pension contributions. Deductions of 4 percent to 8 percent will begin July 14 to help fund pensions.
Ficano went so far as to say city officials should decline the raise.
“The answer should be not just ‘no,’ the answer should be ‘hell, no,” Ficano said. “We are still in the middle of the bankruptcy, I think it’s poor judgement to announce this right after closing deadline for the ballots to be back on the retirees.”
Orr’s spokesman Bill Nowling defended the decision, writing in an email to WWJ, “This is the same deal for non-union employees as the union employees got in their CBAs — 5 percent. All employees must now contribute 6 percent to their pension, so, technically, it’s not a pay increase.
“It is part of a restoration of the 10 percent cut all employees took in 2012.”