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Detroit City Council Balks At Proposed Pay For Chief Financial Officer Under Consent Agreement

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Detroit must soon create positions for a chief financial officer and project management director as mandated by the new consent agreement, but City Council members were unwilling to approve salary figures for the jobs Tuesday.

The state, working with the mayor's office, developed job descriptions and salary ranges. Advisers originally recommended the CFO be paid between $190,000 and $280,00, plus benefits, and the PMD $160,000 to $250,000.

But City Council members said that was way too much.

"When I saw this salary range I almost fell out of my chair," said Member Saunteel Jenkins. "It shouldn't go over what the highest [salary] is for a municipality."

"I do believe it's too high," said Council Member Andre Spivey, who voted against the consent agreement. "It's just hard for me when we're asking police and fire to take a 10 percent cut, layoffs budgetary cuts. ... It's just difficult for me to accept this."

Spivey noted municipal CFOs in other local governments make far less than the proposed salaries.

The CFO for Cook County, Ill., once made $230,000, but the salary there fell to $172,000 this year. Chicago's CFO makes $169,992. Dallas's CFO makes $150,272.

According to the Pew Charitable Trust, Detroit City Council members earn an average salary of $73,595. Mayor Dave Bing makes $158,558.

Council voted to send the proposal back to the mayor and the state, with a recommended salary cap of $220,000.

"That's not how we negotiate -- by just taking and accepting what's being put on the table in first place," said Member James Tate.

City Council also requested that the appointed CFO have a background in municipal finance and management, rather than come solely from the private sector. Financial Advisory Board members must have 10 years municipal experience under the consent agreement, and Council members said any Detroit CFO candidate should have 15 to 20 years experience.

"I would think somebody coming from a municipal background is not going to be looking for incentives anyway, because they know the score," said Member Ken Cockrel, Jr.

The governor will nominate three candidates for the CFO position, and Bing will decide among them. The consent agreement mandates a $1 million total budget for the CFO and project management office, paid for by the city.

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