Minneapolis plans pay rises of up to $12,000 for its top employees

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Gov. Mark Dayton tried it at state level, and now the City of Minneapolis is pushing ahead with plans to increase the salaries of its highest paid staff by up to 8 percent.

At a meeting Wednesday, the city's Executive Committee approved a new salary package for around 120 of its highest-paid workers that will see pay rises of 3 percent in July and 3 percent in December, which will be added to another raise backdated to the start of 2015.

The motivation? Attracting top appointed officials, with the committee document saying wage raises for these positions have fallen behind lower-level salaries over the last 12 years, and are currently 6 percent below the market average.

As a result, fewer employees have been applying for promotions, and lower calibre candidates are interviewing for jobs, the city says.

MPR News reports the planned increases, if approved by the full council, will see appointed official salaries rise from between $80,000 and $165,000 currently to between $87,000 and just over $177,000.

According to the committee document, the pay rises will cost the council $200,000 in its 2015 budget, but because the raises are being staggered, the full cost will be $1 million. Further rises of 2 percent in each of the next six years were also approved by the committee.

A list of the planned increase has been put online by MPR News and can be found here.

The proposal from Minneapolis comes after Gov. Dayton's plan to increase state commissioner pay by $35,000 in order to attract higher-quality managers was opposed by many in Minnesota's House and Senate.

It was eventually decided that Dayton will be allowed to implement salary increases for commissioners on July 1, but after this date no raises can be made without legislative approval, the Pioneer Press reports.

MPR notes Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and the City Council had planned to approve pay raises earlier in the year, but delayed it after the "uproar" at state level.

Even so, the city's raises have not gone unnoticed, with State Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, telling the radio station the rises are "excessive" and the city should lose some of its state funding as a result.

City pushes ahead with paid parental leave

In another move to make jobs more attractive to applicants, the City of Minneapolis' Executive Committee pushed on with plans to introduce paid parental leave.

The new policy, if approved, would provide up to three weeks of paid leave to employees with a newborn child or when they adopt a child. This is expected to cost the city on average $5,500 per employee.

A committee document says around 90 staff members made maternity claims last year, which under the new policy would have cost the city $495,000.

MinnPost reports Hodges added an amendment to the policy so it would be retroactive to Jan. 1, to take into account the 14 employees who are expecting to deliver or adopt a child before the previously planned start date of July 1.

The website notes Minneapolis would become the fourth city in Minnesota to offer paid parental leave. St. Paul offers four weeks pay for birth mothers and two weeks for "non-birthing parents," while Brooklyn Park and St. Louis Park offer two weeks and three weeks, respectively.

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