Mayors deserve more money?

The mayor of Greenwood is getting a $10,000 raise due to new development he helped bring to the city, the pay of mayors in similar communities and to make sure the top official in the city has the highest pay.

Greenwood City Council members have approved the 13 percent pay increase, which will begin in 2016, bringing Mayor Mark Myers’ salary to $87,860.

In Franklin, city council members are considering a proposal that would increase the mayor’s salary by 12 percent to $78,000 per year.

In Greenwood, the raise was proposed by council member Tim McLaughlin. With the raise, the mayor’s salary will be more closely aligned with the pay of mayors in Elkhart, Jeffersonville and Columbus.

The mayor should be paid almost the same as other cities with a similar population to Greenwood, council member Thom Hord said. The mayor’s current salary doesn’t fit a city of Greenwood’s size, he said.

Earlier this month, McLaughlin tried to get the city council to approve a 21 percent raise for the mayor to bring his salary up to $94,122. The council was split on the decision, and McLaughlin came back this week with the revised proposal for a 13 percent hike.

A pay hike for Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness is coming at the request of city council members as well, who say Franklin should rank higher on the list of what mayors are paid in similar communities. Members also want to continue increasing the pay of elected officials and city employees in the future.

“We are not trying to get to the high end, we are just trying to get to the middle. Right now, we are at the low end,” city council member Steve Barnett said.

The raises are being considered as part of both cities’ 2016 budgets, which include 3 percent pay increases for other employees.

Franklin has not voted on the increase. Greenwood approved the salary increase 7-2. Council members Ron Bates and Bruce Armstrong voted against the measure because they thought the increase was too much.

“The mayor knew what he was getting when he signed up for re-election,” Armstrong said. “In recent years, the mayor’s raises have been 2 and 3 percent. This year, 13 percent. To give one person that big of a raise, I don’t agree.”

The mayor is essentially the CEO for the city, and he should be paid, at the very least, as high as the top paid city employee, council member Brent Corey said.

By comparison, the city’s judge is paid $93,436, and the city attorney is paid $87,860. The 13 percent increase will make the mayor’s 2016 salary the same as the city attorney, Hord said.

After McLaughlin suggested that the mayor should be paid more, the city controller studied the mayor’s salary for 13 cities similar to Greenwood in population and size. The study included Fishers, Carmel, Westfield, Hammond, Noblesville, Bloomington, Elkhart, Columbus, Jeffersonville, Goshen, Kokomo and Mishawaka.

Armstrong said the comparison of city populations was flawed. Four of the top five salaries in the study were communities in Hamilton County, and each pays the mayors more than $100,000 a year, according to the report by controller Adam Stone.

“Their comparison leaned heavily on the fact that Hamilton County pays their mayors a whole lot more than almost anybody else,” Armstrong said.

Of the 13 cities, the highest salary for a mayor is $125,000 in Fishers. Greenwood was the second-lowest salary of $77,628, according to Stone’s report.

“The idea was really about bringing the mayor up to where all the other mayors in a city our size are being paid,” Hord said. “It just didn’t make sense for the mayor to make the money he was making and run a city our size.”

The increase would move the mayor’s salary from No. 12 to No. 8 among the cities in the study.

In Franklin, officials also wanted the mayor’s salary to be comparable to that in other central Indiana cities, council members said.

When McGuinness proposed the city’s 2016 budget, he included a 3 percent salary increase for himself. But council members told him they wanted it to be more, he said. They also asked to increase the salary of the clerk-treasurer and are considering the salaries of other office managers in future years, he said.

Years ago, mayors and council members didn’t increase their salaries when other employees got raises, Barnett said.

“We just kind of fell behind,” Barnett said.

In a recent study of mayoral salaries by the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, Franklin ranked 15th out of 60 communities. Greenwood ranked 12th. Now, they want to try to bring the salary back up to the level of other similar communities, council members said.

“We were just trying to get it in line, to be competitive with surrounding areas,” council member Richard Wertz said.

The city looked at similar-sized communities and other central Indiana counties in studies done by other communities and the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, officials said.

“If a guy is going to be the CEO/CFO of the city, they need to be making wages that are up there with the people they are supervising,” Barnett said.

Increasing the salary will ensure that Franklin continues to get elected officials who have the skill set and experience needed to run the city and its finances, he said.

The increase is affordable in the budget, McGuinness said. He planned the budget expecting an overall increase in total property values of 1 to 1.5 percent, but the actual increase was 3.5 percent, he said. The city also has money in savings and is again planning to spend more on roadwork next year, he said.

A higher salary could be a help to bringing in qualified leaders in the future to oversee the city’s $20 million budget, more than 160 full-time employees and ensuring quality of life for more than 25,000 people.

In future years, the city wants to consider larger raises for other city employees, such as street department workers and police officers with special skill sets, council member Joe Abban said.

That is especially important with the lack of or low raises in past years, and since the city’s finances are now in a better position after the recession, he said.

“We are always going to be looking at the pay schedule and who needs to be brought up,” Abban said.

By the numbers

Cities and current mayor’s salaries

Fishers: $125,000

Carmel: $118,673

Bloomington: $95,000

Columbus: $85,119

Greenwood: $77,628

Franklin: $68,640

SOURCE: Greenwood controller’s office.

Author photo
Corey Elliot is a reporter at the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2719.