When Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner spoke with Toledo Free Press for the July 12 cover story, he made it a point to mention his desire to raise the pay levels for his staff.
“There are tasks that are expected, and you have to stay on top of those tasks. You have to be a zealot on professionalism and following up,” Finkbeiner said. “I want a city with people hustling, hustling, hustling. It’s difficult to motivate, because the system does not allow us to give bonuses or significant increases in salary. … I would like to see our upper executives, who in some cases have not had raises in five or six years, get a fiscal boost.”
Now that the mayor has announced his plan to ask City Council to make that idea a reality, the usual cadre of reactionary mayoral critics is pouncing on the proposal and trying to rip it with dull-tooth rhetoric about cronyism and government pork. These are the same critics who gripe that the city is without an economic director, that the city needs to combat brain drain, that the city needs to attract high-caliber people.
As popular and populist as that tired refrain may be, it is difficult to reconcile a demand for the best with a simultaneous advocacy of outdated compensation levels.
As the mayor said, some of these city positions have gone without a raise for six to 10 years. How many of us would work for a company that watched the cost of living jump every year, but offered no raise for the better part of the decade? How would that company attract quality employees?
It’s basic business sense that to retain and attract the best, you have to offer competitive salaries and maintain some consistent raise schedule.
While we urge City Council to set public hearings and give the specifics of the plan a thorough inspection, we also expect the process to be quick, to isolate and eliminate any inappropriate requests, and to result in the implementation of the plan.
We are not in favor of a blank check; we are endorsing a fair and reasonable pay increase for the people whose time and talents are crucial to the development of our city.