by Andy Brownfield
Opponents argue unwise with looming deficit; Dohoney's last raise in 2007
City Council took a contentious vote on Thursday to give the city manager a pay raise and a bonus.
Those in favor of the 10 percent raise and $35,000 bonus
for Milton Dohoney say he is underpaid, has done a great job for the city
and has gone five years without a merit raise. Those opposed say it’s bad timing and sends the wrong
message when many city workers have also gone years without a pay
Dohoney was hired in August 2006. He hasn’t received a
merit raise since 2007, but has collected bonuses and cost of living
adjustments over the years. He currently makes about $232,000 and the
raise would bump that up to $255,000. Dohoney made $185,000 when he started the job.
Council approved the raise on a 6-2 vote, with councilmen Christopher Smitherman and Chris Seelbach voting against it.
Before the vote, Mayor Mark Mallory lauded the manager,
saying he set high expectations and didn’t expect Dohoney to meet them,
but the manager exceeded all of them.
“To do anything other than that
(approve the raise) is a backhanded slap in the face and actually a
statement that we want the manager gone,” Mallory said. “We are going to
give him a raise. And from where I sit we’re not giving him a big
The raise came from a performance review conducted by
Democratic council members Yvette Simpson, Cecil Thomas and sole council
Republican Charlie Winburn.
Winburn said the city manager’s financial management
system is impeccable, Dohoney has pushed economic development, he has
expanded the tax base and made sacrifices by not receiving a raise for
the previous five years.
Other members of council pointed out that Dohoney isn’t the only city employee who has gone a while without a raise.
“For me, look, 4 years ago I turned down a job at Google
where I’d be making a hell of a lot more money,” Councilman P.G.
Sittenfeld told 700WLW radio host Scott Sloan. “This is public service.
This is already the city’s highest-paid employee.”
Sittenfeld missed the council meeting Thursday afternoon because he was out of town on a personal matter, according to an aide.
Sittenfeld and others have raised questions over whether
it is wise to give Dohoney a raise and bonus when the city faces an
estimated $34 million budget deficit. Councilman Wendell Young said the
raise would not hurt the budget.
Opponents also argued that it would look bad to give the
manager a raise when other city employees are dealing with wage freezes.
Police, for instance, agreed during contact negotiations this year to a
two-year wage freeze. Though they received a raise in 2009.
Smitherman said city employee unions may keep that in mind during upcoming negotiations.
"Unions are going to remember this council extended a $35,000 bonus to the city manager.”