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Dubuque City Council Member Balks at $27,000 pay raise for City Attorney

A Dubuque City Council member says a pay increase approved this week for the city attorney places her compensation well beyond that of her peers in Iowa’s other largest cities who have more experience.  It also exceeds what had been budgeted at a time when city officials should be seeing savings from having former City Attorney Barry Lindahl moved to a part-time role, according to Luis Del Toro.

On Monday, council members voted, 6-1, to increase City Attorney Crenna Brumwell’s base salary from $137,700 to $165,000, effective Sept. 1. Del Toro voted against the increase.

“We are now working counter to the city attorney’s office re-organization plan,” Del Toro said. Lindahl transitioned into a part-time role last fall, when then-Assistant City Attorney Crenna Brumwell took over the office.  City officials had said that would result in about $50,000 in annual savings in total compensation, despite increasing the compensation packages for Brumwell and Assistant City Attorney Maureen Quann. 

Brumwell’s total compensation package, which includes insurance and a vehicle allowance, among other things, increased from about $150,700 to $181,100. Quann’s increased from about $149,300 to nearly $163,700.

The restructuring resulted in a roughly 6 percent pay gap between the base salaries of Brumwell and Quann. Quann earns a base of salary of $129,230 that is set to increase Oct. 1 to $136,364 based on the city’s wage schedule, according to City Personnel Manager Randy Peck.  Del Toro previously brought the wage compression to the council’s attention and recommended Brumwell’s salary be increased to rectify the oversight. However, he called Monday’s vote “an over-correction.”

“This has zero to do with the job the city attorney is doing and the work coming out of her office, but the impact that it has on the city’s budget,” Del Toro said during Monday’s council meeting.

City Budget Director Jenny Larson said the savings initially calculated by moving Lindahl to part-time senior counsel did not account for a 2 percent wage increase for staff, longevity and other pay increases, and sick-leave payout to Lindahl.  As a result, actual savings from the reorganization of the city attorney’s office was anticipated to amount to $26,052 for the end of the fiscal year, Larson said.

But with Monday’s action, that savings disappears and creates an additional cost of $561.84 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018.

Paid for by Del Toro for City Council
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