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Bloomington Herald-Times

January 17, 2013

City salaries not that high by comparison
Our opinion
January 17, 2013, last update: 1/17 @ 5:50 am

City leaders sent an admirable message to their employees this year by not taking a pay raise while most others in city government received at least a little more on their paychecks. The move was good for morale, even though it's still sport to point at those at the high end of the public pay scale as if they are doing something wrong.

But for what they are hired to do, city pay is quite modest for those with the highest job expectations and responsibilities -- at least when compared to other communities and other job sectors.

Sure, the salaries for the highest paid in city government top by a comfortable amount the average per capita personal income for Monroe County. That figure was $31,021 for 2011, according to STATS Indiana, produced by the Indiana Business Research Center at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.

That makes Mayor Mark Kruzan's salary of $95,464 look good, along with the 11 other salaries that exceed $80,000, for instance.

Comparisons to other similar university-dominated cities show these numbers to be in line, if not a little low.

Seventeen city employees in Iowa City -- home to the University of Iowa -- made more than $100,000 in 2012, led by the city manager at $160,014. Five city employees in Lawrence, Kan. -- home to the University of Kansas -- made more than $100,000 in 2011, led by the city manager at about $154,000. Ten city employees in Ann Arbor, Mich., made more than $100,000 in 2011, with the city administrator making $145,000. And on it goes.

As for Bloomington, Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers from 2010 said the average salary for a chief executive was $160,000; for a financial manager was about $93,000; and for a human resource manager was about $91,000. Bloomington controller Sue West is basically the financial manager, and her salary of $83,245 is about $10,000 lower than the city average for the position in 2010; city HR manager Daniel Grundmann's salary (also $83,245) is $8,000 lower than the Bloomington wide average for that job from three years ago. That's common for the public sector.

But not all public sector jobs are created equal. According to a database of Indiana University salaries, 1,106 people on the IU Bloomington campus make more than Mayor Kruzan. And 1,285 make more than the second-highest paid city employee, utilities director Pat Murphy ($89,674).

What people make can spark endless discussion and debate, but by any objective comparison, Bloomington's city officials are working at a bargain price.