Mayor Chris Beutler announced today that he is ordering a one-half percent reduction in the salaries of City Department Directors and Mayoral Aides for the 2011-2012 budget year. With tough budget choices ahead, Beutler said they offered to make the cut to send the right message to their fellow employees and the community.
"I am proud of my staff and their willingness to stand up for the City," Beutler said. "They have taken to heart the message I have given for all four years of my administration – we are all in this together, and City Hall must share the realities faced by Lincoln families, many of whom are only now starting to recover from the long national economic crisis."
The past two years, salaries for Directors and Mayoral Aides were frozen for one year and nearly flat the next. With 1.5 percent inflation, the pay cut will leave them with a 2 percent reduction in real purchasing power. The salary decrease will save the City about $10,825 in the next fiscal year. Just as important as the savings, Beutler said, is the example his staff is setting that sacrifices must be shared by all. And he renewed his call for the State Legislature to reconsider proposed cuts in revenues for cities and to reform the Commission of Industrial Relations (CIR).
"The State is on track to take Lincoln's $1.8 million dollars in local aid, even though State aid to local governments was designed specifically to keep down local property taxes," Beutler said. "At the same time, State laws on public employee pay and the CIR leave us little negotiating room to address the State aid cut by seeking concessions from City employees."
Beutler said more than 50 percent of the City tax-funded budget goes to police, fire and 911 services. His budgets have eliminated 120 positions, about 8 percent of the civilian workforce. He said State aid cuts and State-mandated labor increases could force cuts in public safety and higher property taxes.
"The Legislature has a real choice to make," Beutler said. "Does it force its budget problems onto the backs of property tax payers or does it give us some options to deal with the cuts? We have been a willing player in trying to find solutions such as CIR reform to slow the growth of labor costs. We are willing to work together on other solutions. But I am not willing to quietly sit back and allow the State to force its budget problems on the City without giving us the tools to deal with it."