Facing $34 Million Deficit, Cincinnati Gives City Manager 10% Raise, Bonus

CINCINNATI, OH &#8211 The decision to give Cincinnati’s city manager a 10 percent raise – plus a $35,000 one-time payment – has irked city police and prompted complaints that, with the city facing a $34 million deficit, now is the wrong time for such a raise.

City Council Thursday voted 6-2 to give Milton Dohoney the raise, which Mayor Mark Mallory said was more than deserved. The vote came amid new revelations over how the raise came about – and about Dohoney’s previous raises.

Dohoney now will earn $255,000, almost 38 percent more than when he started at the city in 2006. City Council agreed to the pay raise after three of them chosen by Mayor Mark Mallory reviewed the manager’s performance and found he didn’t need improvement in any categories.

The raise prompted Fraternal Order of Police President Kathy Harrell’s phone to buzz with calls from upset officers who haven’t had salary increases since 2010. The department hasn’t hired anyone since 2008, she said, and just reduced its spring recruit class from 50 to 30.

“This is just bad timing,” she said, as council is about to start talking about next year’s budget, which could have a deficit of about $34 million. The union agreed to a wage freeze through 2014, but she said “you better believe” negotiators will now ask for raises officers missed.

Councilman Christopher Smitherman, who voted against the raise, said he likes Dohoney and thinks he’s doing a reasonably good job, but he’s concerned giving him such a boost could cost the city millions when it negotiates contracts next with its unions.

Councilman Chris Seelbach also voted against the raise and payment. Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, who also opposed it in committee, was not at the meeting, making the final vote 6-2.

The mayor had full control over the review process this time. “As well I should,” Mallory said.

He appointed three council members – Yvette Simpson, Charlie Winburn and Cecil Thomas – to review the manager.

That was allowed because council last month repealed a 2006 ordinance that required the manager to be reviewed every year by a bipartisan group – a procedure that was never followed.

The current ordinance mandates “periodic” reviews by three mayoral appointees.

The $34,892 payment makes up for 2 percent merit increases other administrative employees got in 2008 and 2010.

Mallory said he learned that Dohoney had not included himself in those.

There was some confusion Wednesday over how much Dohoney’s salary was, alone, without deferred compensation payments that were sometimes included in city data.

Deferred compensation is an amount of money withheld from executives’ pay, invested and paid to them in the future.

The city, with the deal agreed to Thursday, no longer is paying that for Dohoney, Olberding said.

Thursday, the city released a detailed accounting of the manager’s pay over time, starting with the $185,000 he earned when he arrived.

In 2007, that jumped 7 percent, to $198,000, after a vote by council. That was the manager’s last council-approved merit raise.

He has received other raises: 2 percent cost-of-living increases in 2006, 2009 and 2010.

Also during that time, however, Dohoney gave back 10 days of pay, as all non-union employees did, Olberding said. Those days cost him more than $14,000, according to the city budget data.

Dohoney earned $210,958 before the boost to $255,000.

Mallory said $255,000 still isn’t enough for a city manager doing the kind of work Dohoney does.

“The city is on fire,” he said. “Everywhere I go, people say the city is doing great things. … And we ask ourselves, ‘Should we give him a salary increase?’ The answer is absolutely yes.”

From New.Cincinnati.com