Update: Here are the parts in the city charter that refer to pay discretion and directors, seems the mayor has a lot of control over the ‘salary steps’; pay-discretion

Earlier in the year I was able to acquire the salary records for all of the city employees since 2010. All of my data comes from the city website either directly or indirectly. I possessed data for 2014-2015, while another South DaCola foot soldier who frequently downloads city information had the other records, and one of the years was supplied to me by a city official.

I was also able to get the information verified. When I provided it to a local news agency, they of course wanted to double check the information so they asked for the same data from the city finance office. We compared the files they provided and they matchup. There was some debate from the finance office that the information I acquired may be inaccurate because the city uses a different kind of accounting system now then what they used in 2010. This of course doesn’t change what people are being paid by any means, as was proven when we cross referenced the files.

As you will see by the list below of the closest directors, managers and assistants to the mayor, it’s good to keep a little brown on your nose if you want a little extra green in your wallet. While, I by no means, am opposed to raises for public employees, in no way do I think they deserve raises that are four times the COLA. In the private sector, especially in Sioux Falls, you would be hard pressed to see increases like these, especially when you take into account the kind of pension and benefits plan these public employees receive on top of their pay. There is also the argument of retention and lack of bonus pay for public employees.

Some say these large increases come from promotions or achieving goals, while that is a great argument in the private sector, I question if that should be the case in the public sector. Many of these managers DID not receive any promotions over the 4-5 year period and hold the same position. And most of the managers that did get a change, it usually was in name (title) only, essentially their job did not really change. It seems to me that employees are being rewarded for doing the mayor’s bidding (he signs off on the wage increases and salaries) instead of the work they are doing, or for that matter NOT DOING.

Take SIRE for instance. It was broken before Mayor Huether even took office, and with a new appointment in Central Services, and 5 years later, it still doesn’t work. It reminds me of what a former city employee said to me about the forestry manager a couple of weeks ago when we were discussing Project Trim, He said, “He works 80 hours a week trying to get out of work.”

Three managers, that you WILL not see listed below, Mike Cooper (Director of Planning), Jeff Schmitt and Kevin Smith received very small COLA like raises over the past 5 years. In fact, Kevin Smith quit this past year. You have to question why someone like Mike was only receiving small 2% raises while his peers were receiving large 10-12% every other year? What’s that saying about playing the reindeer games? Mike Cooper has been under a lot of pressure this past year due to his internal zoning and the Walmart hearings. He recently spent $30K for a study of a neighborhood that the neighborhood did not ask for. I will let you speculate whether or not Huether was rewarding his good soldiers with significant wage increases for doing his bidding or for performance, or a combination of both. Either way, the numbers don’t lie, a city management job looks like a pretty good gig, if you don’t mind the smell.

What is even more troubling is that you will not find these kind of salary increases in the hourly employees over the past five years. Those stayed stable at 2-3% a year, in fact in the SFPD several officers received NO increase in some years. Notice in the list below you will find NO ONE from the SFPD listed, not even the former chief of police, with one exception, the city attorney who is charge of advising them, KEITH ALLENSTEIN.

Here’s a chart showing the hourly rate increases over the same time period;





24 Thoughts on “UPDATE: Is Mayor Huether using his ‘business acumen’ to hand out corporate like raises and salaries to his favorite directors?

  1. Good reporting….Absolutely disgusting considering the wage of the tax base that pays them.

    Find a coordinator position in the private sector that pays 80 to 100K?

  2. The D@ily Spin on January 1, 2016 at 6:46 am said:

    Good reporting but you’ll never see it on news networks. One wonders why they wear blinders. The Argus seems to have reversed posture and now recognizes the evil at city hall. Why is there more management at the city than Microsoft or Verizon? They have scores more employees that’s double this city’s population. Again, the problem is strong mayor. We’re the city a democracy, there’d be freedom of information and sound checks and balances.

  3. The D@ily Spin on January 1, 2016 at 6:52 am said:

    Mike Huether will never be governor but could make the cover of Time if not most interesting for 2016. Didn’t John Gotti make the cover? With the likes of Trump and Hillary, it’s ‘Time’ for an organized crime figure instead of a politician.

  4. Big Guy on January 1, 2016 at 9:10 am said:

    I want that kind of raise but no way in Hell I’d work for the city under Huether.

  5. Worker Bees on January 1, 2016 at 9:57 am said:

    WILLIAM O’TOOLE, DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES must earn his keep. He has directed a HR department looking for massive turnover of hourly employees. Less than half of the hourly employees have remained during the 6 years he has received a 26.17% increase in pay. Other than searching for more new hires, what has he done to make it a better place to stay working? Has he talked with the boss about his mercurial mood swings and what it does to the city government’s work environment?

  6. Worker Bees on January 1, 2016 at 9:59 am said:

    Did any of these people get new office space, moved more than the cubicle away from where they started?

  7. come on on January 1, 2016 at 11:38 am said:

    Part of the reason for the salary increases is probably due to the fact that the City has a stepped salary scale for each position. I’m not sure how often they get their “step increases”, but I’m sure it’s probably at least once a year…Did you research that aspect of the story at all?

  8. Poly43 on January 1, 2016 at 1:35 pm said:

    Interesting numbers. Governor doo-regard would do well to come here for work. After all, 28 city employees make more than our highly esteemed govinator. Not a good comparison I realize, seeing as how comparing a do nothing governor to a similar position with the city seems redundant. How about this. 154 salaried city employees make more than a median school principal makes in the same city. And get this. Every city employee, from the highest paid salaried desk jockey to the lowest paid part time bush trimmer, all 1450 of em, make more than a substitute teacher per hour.

  9. Come On, Thanks for bringing that up. It is true, there are stepped salaries and certain formulas used for the salaried employees, but ultimately, at the end of the day, the mayor can override any of those formulas or change them. Just look at Mike Cooper and Kevin Smith’s wages over the past 5 years, they certainly were not getting the same kind of increases, yet Cotter, who was in a similiral role was. So I question how and when this stepped process is applied.

  10. come on on January 1, 2016 at 3:45 pm said:

    I ran into a buddy of mine at the gym today who works for the City, so I asked him a few questions. He said that there are only 9 salary steps, and once you get to step 9, you are essentially “topped out” except for COLA’s. That might explain Kevin Smith and some of the others.

    He also said that if you get a promotion, you get bumped into that salary scale, so that might explain the increases of those who got a title change.

    BUT, he said there’s a different way that the Directors’ salaries are determined. He didn’t really know much about that other than it was different, and that possibly at the Mayor’s descretion. That still keeps Cooper’s lack of salary increase compared to the other Directors something of a mystery.

    If you question how the City’s salary stuff is set up, why don’t you just talk to someone in the City’s HR Department and ask them?

  11. Poly43 on January 1, 2016 at 4:28 pm said:

    Most government jobs work like this. Hourly employees start at a particular hourly wage, or grade, depending on knowledge, skills and abilities. Along with that come step increases, 10 in all, over a 18 year period. Each of these steps is about a 2.5 to 3% pay increase. Usually along with this comes a yearly COLA, or Cost Of Living Adjustment. Sometimes that COLA is 0%, sometimes up to and even a little more than 3%. Over the course of a career it is not unusual to double your starting salary. Seems fair enough to me.

    Management on the other hand? Way too much GOB in my opinion. Thats GOB for “good ol boy” system. Most management raises are based on “MERIT”, or, like I said, GOB.
    I doubt many full time employees are leaving the city for greener pastures. Here’s what’s happening. Fire Department, Police, and management are salaried. That means the 1047 hourly workers are split between fulltime and part time. I’d say about 600 odd full timers, and 400 odd part timers. And what constitutes a part time city employee? Low paying, no benefits, no insurance, and no weekly hours worked that exceeds 28 hours a week averaged out over a years time. So when you have 400 or so part time employees making on average about 300 Gross dollars a week with no bennies, then sure, there is going to be high turnover.

  12. As a full time employee this is definitely an eye opener. We have been treading water for a while now as far as wages are concerned. I know, cry me a river. This mayor has no regard for the regular full time employee. He rewards those in management that tow the line and look good in leopard print. Probably not any different than most employers in the private sector. You move up those that seem loyal to you and pay them accordingly. There’s a truck load of animosity towards this mayor from the regular city employees perspective and we would love nothing more than to see him gain a state wide office. Simply to see him leave. He may get a hell of a wake up call when his poll numbers disappoint. Ain’t no way a Sioux Falls democrat that has taken the city into deep debt through questionable projects (the half-ass events center in the wrong location comes to mind) is going to get elected. If he thinks he’s fooling the average South Dakotan then he’s more arrogant and condescending than I give him credit for. He in no way crosses over to the average rural South Dakotan voter. He’s democrat, yuppie and too much of a puss to get excited over. Everything that works for him in Sioux Falls will cost him state wide. Everyone outside the “beltway” of Sioux Falls will see through the bullshit.

  13. Arrogant Might agree with you there.Remember all the puppets who work for him there to.

  14. Thomas on January 2, 2016 at 9:43 am said:

    The Shawna Goldammer case is a mystery. If she is doing such a great job in her position to get the raises she gets; then why did she recently apply, interview, and ultimately get turned down for the city manager position in Canton?

  15. Wow Darrin Smith making those big bucks.

  16. The department directors do not have pay steps nor are they guaranteed COLA raises. Their raises are basis on performance and are solely at the discretion of the Mayor.

    So while the management raises might be due to step increases or COLAs, the director’s raises are 100% political payback.

  17. Vos metere quod seminas – C8, B9.

  18. Poly43 on January 3, 2016 at 10:00 am said:

    Anon. You believe mmm is a democrat? mmm is a DINO to be sure. To me, a democrat is someone who favors sharing risks and ensuring that the common man, Joe and Jane Sixpack, get a fair shake. A republican is someone who believes all the good things in life trickle down from the rich to the poor. That model has not worked for the last 35 years, especially right here in good ol SFSD. Each year more and more Joe’s and Jane’s are lowered from the middle class to the working poor. Under the leadership of mmm, and what has happened under his watch, can anyone seriously consider him a democrat?

  19. CI is probably right. According to the charter, which I listed below there are several references to the mayor being able to establish salary, salary steps and incentive pay. In other words, he can establish whatever he wants those increase to be;


  20. The D@ily Spin on January 4, 2016 at 9:25 am said:

    Are there 25 offices at city hall for directors? How many stay home? Also, a third of city employees live outside city limits. It’s time to cut these. Especially, if they don’t vote in city elections or pay taxes. Works for city politicians and citizens.

    Walk into the city personnel office anytime, you’re lucky if there’s someone there. If there is, it’s such a hardship for them to wait on you. Where are these people? Maybe check the Crow Bar. Personnel will not take city employee complaints. I’ve tried. They dismiss if not completely ignore you.

    Goldhammer is dishonest and dysfunctional. She lied in court under oath at my trial against the city. Were there a registered complaint process, she’d be long gone.

  21. The D@ily Spin on January 4, 2016 at 9:35 am said:

    There’s a director for everything. Mikey recently named a human rights director who has no office, no budget, and no employees to supervise. She makes Huether look better regarding civil rights abuse, false arrests, and jailing the homeless. How about a Nose Pick Director? Do some spots on propaganda TV channels. Then, Huether can cite going green.

  22. Al Anon on January 5, 2016 at 6:19 pm said:

    Something not mentioned above is the secret double pension all management personnel get. The city matches up to 2 percent of their wages into a 457 retirement plan. So when they retire the get their regular pension plus their secret 457 retirement plan..

  23. Poly43 on January 6, 2016 at 10:16 am said:

    So when they retire the get their regular pension plus their secret 457 retirement plan.

    Don’t forget the double secret algorithm that goes into pension retirement calculations for city employees hired before 1997. Not only do they receive 100% of unused sick leave upon retirement, (not altogether unfair) but that amount is added to the last years salary and figured in averaging high 3 years for pension amounts.

    Example. You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone! Mr Management decides to retire at age 57. In 2013 Mr M made 100K. In 2014, 120K, In 2015, 140K. Averages out to 120K. With 30 years of loyal service, Mr M will receive 60% of his high 3 year average, or 72K a year in pension. Not a bad gig at age 57, IF you can get it. But remember, we have entered the twilight zone. Here’s how it works in the city of SF dimension. Mr M decides to retire at age 57. Same salary numbers as the first wondrous land of imagination, but with this added caveat. Mr M added the 60K he received for unused sick leave to his last years salary for pension calculation. Now Mr M, at age 57 will receive 84K a year for his lifetime compared to the paltry 72K he would have otherwise deserved. That’s the signpost up ahead. Our next stop? The Twilight Zone!

  24. Say What? on January 2, 2017 at 8:17 am said:

    Al Anon – Correction, I believe the city matches up to 4% of a managers contribution to the 457 plan.

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