Thursday, March 29, 2012

Former mayor Mary Verner responds to our story about requests for back pay

Posted By on Thu, Mar 29, 2012 at 10:40 AM

click to enlarge COVER.INL_Verner_ZehmPress_Conf090911_1_MG_0053.jpg

We wrote a story this week revealing that shortly before she asked for back pay and a pension adjustment, outgoing Mayor Mary Verner signed a city law restricting voluntary salary reductions for City Council members. (Click here to download PDFs of Verner's backpay and pension request letters.)

Due to some communication mix-ups, Verner's full response came after deadline, so here it be:

Note that my letter . . . asks for evaluation of my retirement benefit as if I had constructively received my salary. This is the point completely missed in previous press coverage, but was entirely the point of my request for the City to evaluate the almost $300,000 in salary I forfeited over my term as Mayor. I asked for an evaluation of my retirement as if I had received the full salary. I have not yet received a response to this central question. I have received only the response that I will not receive any back pay, which is exactly the response I anticipated.

Again, I have not received any back pay or any bump in retirement. And I have not filed a claim. I merely made the inquiry and moved on to new endeavors. I’m not waiting for any different response from the City. My only remaining curiosity about this topic is why a news reporter would still belabor it over 3 months later.

Regarding the Council’s ordinance, it was a clarification needed to address a void between the Council’s and individual Council Members’ authorities and the mandate of the Salary Commission. The Council chose not to address the Mayor’s salary in their ordinance, deferring to the separation of duties under the City Charter. However, the ambiguity in law addressed by this ordinance still persists as it regards the Mayor’s lawful ability to decline all or a portion of the Charter-mandated salary.

There were legal memoranda from the City Attorney in 2007 and 2009 regarding whether an elected official may decline part of his or her salary. During my term, I made the executive decision to decline any amounts over $100,000/year, even though legal advice was not supportive. I did this so the City could keep other lower-paid employees, so we could pay for small contracts not otherwise covered in the budget, and we could meet other City expenses during a time of plummeting City revenues. I have no regrets about this decision; it was the right thing to do.

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