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Ballard plans to introduce merit raises for more employees

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Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard will put extra pressure on department chiefs to cut their budgets—by offering city-county employees a shot at merit-based raises.

A new system of merit raises will be introduced Monday along with the 2013 budget, Ballard spokesman Marc Lotter said Thursday during an interview in Ballard’s office.

Ballard this spring raised the pay for 14 of his staff members an average of nearly 18 percent. He’s defended the controversial raises—which were only made public recently—as necessary to retain top talent.

Ballard reiterated during the interview Thursday that spending in his office remains under budget. The raises, as well as the additional position of deputy mayor for education, were funded through employee attrition and by spending less on non-personnel budget categories, he said.

Ballard said his proposal will give other city agencies the opportunity to do the same. “They have to make a choice,” he said.

If it sounds like a move to prompt budget cuts, he said, “It is.”

City Controller Jeff Spalding forecasts a 2013 budget deficit of $50 million to $60 million. That could shrink, depending on how much the city spends from its $30 million rainy-day fund. The money is being held over since the state Department of Revenue corrected accounting errors that short-changed local governments.

Ballard said criminal justice agencies, which account for 85 percent of spending from the city’s $569 million general fund, are due for cuts. That would include offices such as the Marion County sheriff and prosecutor, which are led by elected officials who can’t be fired for spending too much.

What’s more, they may have political cover from the Democrat-controlled City-County Council. Sheriff John Layton, a Democrat elected in 2010, already submitted a budget request that exceeded his 2012 budget allocation.

Ballard, a Republican, would not reveal what his introduced budget will look like, but Prosecutor Terry Curry said his staff has been told to include a 5-percent cut. Agencies were also asked to submit a proposal that reflected their needs, he said.

“We were, as of a week ago, uncertain as to what was going to be submitted on our behalf,” Curry said Thursday. “We’re still uncertain as of today.”

Curry said the mayor’s office hasn’t briefed him on the merit-raise proposal, and he wondered whether that would come at the expense of other budget areas.

“I hope for the sake of our staff of attorneys there is sufficient revenue so we can give raises and fund everything else it costs to run an office of this size.” He said there have been no pay increases in his office since 2009. The prosecutor has more than 350 employees, including 175 deputy prosecutors.

Curry said he has already “slashed to the bone” all non-personnel spending.

Ballard’s merit-raise proposal will include a system for rewarding top performers, Lotter said. It would apply to roughly 4,000 employees who aren’t covered by a union contract, he said.

Lotter said the merit-pay system has been in the works for a “long” time. Ballard insists that the raises handed out on his staff were no secret to the council. He called Democrats’ demand to rescind them a “smokescreen.”

“We told the council leadership,” Ballard said. “If they didn’t tell everybody in their caucus, that’s on them.”

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  • Petty dems
    Oh, brother! Your beer must be really salty from all the crying you are doing in it! He is the Marine Mayor doing what is right regardless of all the crybabies. The high wage earners are the productive workers. Our $120,000 Deputy Mayor just got hired away for $190,000. Don't tell me he wasn't worth $120K because the market just did. He is worth more as most of our people are. If you were offered $190,000 would you turn it down? We need to be making ourselves WORTH more individually as he did. THEN you get it. And public schools are NOT City-controlled or operated so don't go there.
  • I like it!
    Yes! Shut down the city for a day. Let's see how long it takes for anarchy to ensue. Nothing like a little revolution to foster "hope and change".
  • Does this sound familiar...
    OK, let's see...reward the high-wage earners, no raises for the mid/low wage earners, in fact, let's make sure their supervisor's have to consider slashing their mid/low wage earner's jobs or salaries so they will, indeed, continue to get their pay increases! Hmmmmm....think I've heard this scenario played out somewhere before....Anyone else familiar with this story????
    • Our Pretend Mayor
      You do not create a budget and reduce a deficit by giving out pay raises to your staff. Ballard's not stupid, he just doesn't care. He's getting fatter(litterally)while our Police department and public school systems fall apart. He knows that by the time he gets ousted he'll be sitting pretty financially and that's about as deep as his thinking gets.
    • TRANSLATION - less services for taxpayers
      The Mayor is setting the stage so managers can get bonuses and raises by cutting services to taxpayers who pay for the services. Scratch that I mean cut costs or at least that is his spin. Ballard has mismanaged the City finances since elected. Can he ever take responsibility for anything? Those managers do not need to make choices he needs to cut the budget AND take the heat. This is a lose lose proposition for these managers. Ballard just does not get it. How unprofessional he is.
    • Ballards management is that of slot machine management
      Each day a leader in the Ballard Admin - 25th floor takes a turn on the slot machine handle. Whatever comes up is what they decide to attempt to work on or fabricate. What has Ballard been doing for the last 5 years besides lining the pockets of his contributors? He suddenly decides to hold departments accountable? I think all city workers should call in sick on the same day to show him their displeasure with how unfair and unscrupulous the raises he gave out were. This is a smokescreen by the Mayor. He and his leadership team lack any requisite skill at financially managing the city. I doubt they could manage a business with $5 million in revenue. How is it that the Mayor's office operates in such a vacuum that Curry is in the dark. Does Ballard have any "written proof" that he provided council leadership information about the RIDICULOUS RAISES HE GAVE HIS CRONIES or did he just "dream" that he told them? Ballard seems to have trouble with the truth. Seems

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