Columbus employees, elected officials, to see a 1.5-percent raise

City employees and elected officials will receive a 1.5-percent pay increase in 2017. This, after the Columbus City Council approved the measures on second reading during its meeting Tuesday night.

The requests, from Mayor Jim Lienhoop, were divided into two ordinances: one for employees and the other for elected officials. Councilman Frank Miller spoke out against the raises, saying that the actual cost-of-living adjustment is between 0.7 and one-percent. He argued that an increase beyond that was uncalled for, especially when recipients of Social Security are slated to receive around a 0.2-percent increase in 2017. Miller’s objections were echoed by a few members of the audience. Dave Jones said that these increases, while relatively minor for the employees, add up for city taxpayers. He also argued that such increases aren’t fair to residents in the private-sector. “The community, as a whole, is not getting a cost-of-living increase,” said Jones, who seemed open to a pay-increase of this size to those who work in public safety.

In an interview earlier this year, Mayor Lienhoop explained that one the “pillars” of his administration is making Columbus an attractive place to work. These increases are, ostensibly, a part of that effort. In addition, Jamie Brinegar, the city’s director of finance, explained to the city council that there are plans in place for 2017 to conduct a salary review to determine if city positions are being adequately compensated and to make recommendations on possible adjustments.

The city council voted 6-to-1 to approve the ordinance. Frank Miller was the “no” vote.

The next ordinance, asking for identical increases for the city’s elected officials, also got some push-back from audience members. Glen Petrie urged council members to vote against the measure, noting that members of that body received a two-percent raise this year. Petrie also referenced recipients of Social Security, whom he says received no increase in 2016.

The council voted 5-to-2 to approve the pay hike. Frank Miller and Laurie Booher were the “no” votes.