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Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, City Council members on track to receive raises this year despite cuts, wage freezes stemming from pandemic

Minneapolis Star Tribune logo Minneapolis Star Tribune 1/15/2021 Liz Navratil, Star Tribune

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and all 13 City Council members will receive raises this year, even as some city workers' wages remain frozen amid the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of the elected leaders, including Frey, have said they intend to donate their raises back to the city in solidarity with other workers. Other officials have not said what they plan to do with their pay hikes.

A City Council resolution passed in 2017 put in place a formula to calculate raises for the city's elected leaders. It determines their pay bump by averaging out the increases included in the union contracts they approved the previous year.

Based on that formula, the salary for council members is set to rise this year from $103,590 to $106,101, and the mayor's salary is set to increase from $132,804 to $136,011.

Many of the union contracts approved in 2020 were finalized early in the year, before the pandemic prompted the city to take steps to cut costs. Many city employees are represented by unions, and some agreed to furloughs or wage freezes under terms that vary depending upon their union.

A wage freeze remains in effect for some employees who aren't covered by unions, including appointed officials such as department heads and other high-ranking supervisors, and political appointees such as aides to elected officials.

The city attorney's office advised elected leaders not to change their salaries in the interim, because of an ordinance that allows them to set their wages only before the beginning of their next term in office. Since 2021 is a municipal election year they could take action sometime this year, but it wouldn't take effect until 2022.

In the meantime, some council members say they plan to forgo their salary increases. Jeremy Schroeder said he "cannot in good conscience accept a salary increase of any kind" after other workers faced layoffs, furloughs or wage freezes.

Andrew Johnson said he plans to donate back part of his salary, in an amount "proportionate with what employees have forgone," and Kevin Reich said he plans to donate half of his increase to the city and half to nonprofit charities.

Lisa Goodman did not specify what she will do with her raise but noted that last year she, like some other council members, donated back the equivalent of five days' worth of pay in solidarity with other workers who took furloughs.

Linea Palmisano said she also donated an amount equivalent to furlough days but added she had not decided what she'll do with her 2021 raise.

Other elected officials did not respond to requests for comment.

A full list of the elected officials who donated back pay in 2020 is expected to be released in a report later this month.

Liz Navratil • 612-673-4994


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