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Dems grumbling over big raises for Ballard's staff

July 31, 2012

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s staff received a collective 18-percent raise this spring following the hiring of a new deputy for education with an annual salary of $120,000.

Ballard in March hired Jason Kloth, a former senior vice president at Washington, D.C.-based Teach for America, as his first deputy mayor for education. Kloth’s salary was never a secret, former Chief of Staff Chris Cotterill said, but some members of the City-County Council now are grumbling behind the scenes about the cascade of raises that followed.

Deputy mayors Michael Huber and Olgen Williams now make $120,000, a 23-percent increase each. And Ryan Vaughn, the Republican city-county councilor who left his law practice at Barnes & Thornburg to succeed Cotterill as chief of staff, also was given a salary of $120,000—$22,150 more than Cotterill.

Angela Mansfield, the Democrat who heads the council's administration and finance committee, said she "definitely was not aware" that others on Ballard's staff received raises after Kloth was hired. She said she first read about it on the Advance Indiana blog.

"[Kloth's hiring is] not an excuse for upping all those other salaries," she said.

Ballard is now spending $990,000, an increase of about 18 percent, on salaries for the 14 staffers who received raises this spring and summer.

Ballard spokesman Marc Lotter said all the raises were absorbed in the existing budget through attrition. Cotterill said he moved some money allocated for professional services to salaries to make room for the new deputy of education job. The total budget for the mayor's office is about $3.7 million.

Cotterill put through the raises before returning to private law practice at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, but the pay increase for the chief of staff didn't take effect until Vaughn came on the job.

Cotterill said Ballard has recruited a talented staff, and he believes all the raises were justified.

Vaughn is praised on both sides of the aisle, Cotterill said, and he took a significant pay cut to work full-time in the public sector. Huber has executed two major privatization deals that are saving the city money (the long-term lease of city parking meters and the sale of the water utility), and Williams provides Ballard with a strong connection to the faith-based community, he said.

Ballard had to pay Kloth far more than the $97,850 that his other deputies were earning because he was in a bidding war with the city of Chicago, Cotterill said.

“(Chicago Mayor) Rahm Emmanuel himself was trying to get Jason Kloth,” he said.

Once Kloth was in the door, Cotterill thought it made sense to bring others up to his level.

Raises for 11 other staff members range from 31 percent for Deputy Chief of Staff Amy Waggoner, now earning $85,000, to 6 percent for an executive assistant, now earning $52,500.

Lotter, who also got a boost, from $95,000 to $105,000, said the raises reflect the fact that many people have taken on additional duties.

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