Council committee advances wage change linked to inflation and paid parental leave


An Indianapolis City and County Council committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to advance a plan to allow public employee wages to rise with inflation, as work continues on the first shift in city’s public pay scale for over a decade.

A flash point in the discussion? Stagnation of the salaries of elected officials.

The other changes in the proposal also aim to boost recruitment and retention, clarify objective-based incentive compensation standards, add a bonus program for “outstanding meritorious performance” and introduce paid parental leave.

“We know that the cost of living impacts our employees [and] it impacts our ability to attract and retain employees, ”Renee Madison, city and county human resources manager, told the administration and finance committee. “We know that because they tell us when they leave that there are other opportunities, that they just need to be able to support their families.”

A provision in Proposition 287 would annually adjust the wages of all non-union employees based on changes in the Consumer Price Index in the Midwest region. Salary increases would be capped at 3% and could be ignored or reduced if projected city-county incomes decline or in other extenuating circumstances.

The city’s public employee pay scale has not been revised since 2009, Comptroller Ken Clark said. He and Madison told councilors low and stagnant wages hurt competitiveness with other city governments offering higher wages.

“We have to stay current… so they can make a living,” Madison said. “We have about a third of our employees who do not reach this living wage level. “

That threshold is an hourly wage of $ 18, or an annual wage of $ 37,440, outlined in the EmployeeIndy’s Living Wage Initiative, Madison later clarified in an email.

“We’re really doing our best to be competitive in a market that’s now a workers’ economy,” Clark said. “… Between the salary grids that I submitted with the Budget Ordinance and the cost of living adjustments that will occur each year at the discretion of the Comptroller, you now have a real way where [non-union employees] don’t earn less money every year in city-county government.

City-county employees with three, six or 12 months under their belt would earn two, four or six weeks of paid leave, respectively, for newborns and newly adopted children. The program would apply to parents of all sexes who work part time or full time.

This decision would put the city ahead of the state for the state for parental leave. In January 2018, Indiana became the eighth state government to offer paid parental leave, but part-time workers only get 3.1 days (75 hours) of leave and full-time workers 6.25 days (150 hours).

Before voting, committee members asked to clarify that the changes would not benefit local elected officials. Council legal counsel confirmed that it was not. But the move reopened another box of worms: Indy’s part-time lawmakers haven’t had their base salary hike of $ 11,400 for three decades or more, and the latest pay rise per meeting has took place in 2002.

“We are getting wages from 1974,” Democrat La Keisha Jackson said. “We do two jobs… We make $ 5.25 an hour when you split it. It’s an insult to anyone!

The most recent push to increase councilors’ salaries dates back to 2019, but board chairman Vop Osili took it off the agenda just before a plenary board meeting. The legislation had drawn criticism and repeated veto threats from Mayor Joe Hogsett after its last-minute introduction.

Clark told councilors that the cost-of-living adjustment could be covered by the city’s typical annual budget of $ 11 to 13 million, and that the other provisions of the proposal would affect from the 2023 budget. de Clark is in the midst of a compensation study, which involves a rewrite of all city-county job descriptions and reassignment on the recently improved pay scale.

The committee took the proposal to the Democratic-majority council, which will meet on September 13.

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