New Bloomington city manager to outearn 49 U.S. governors

New Bloomington city manager to outearn 49 U.S. governors

Decatur City’s city manager is on his way to take the same post in Bloomington, and with it a raise that will push his income above 49 of the nation’s 50 governors.

The city of Bloomington hired away Decatur City Manager Tim Gleason – who earns more than nearly every U.S. governor – with an even higher salary finalized June 25.

In Bloomington, Gleason will make $185,000 in the first year of a four-year contract, plus $7,500 for moving expenses, $550 per month in transportation reimbursements and four weeks paid vacation. This deal – approved 8-0 by the Bloomington City Council – pushes his earnings ahead of every U.S. governor except Pennsylvania’s Gov. Tom Wolf. In Decatur, Gleason’s annual salary was bumped this year to $176,500 from $169,100. This not only surpassed 45 U.S. governors, but these earnings also far exceed those of whom he serves: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in Decatur is just over $40,700.

Gleason’s high compensation has continued to grow in spite of his dubious record. The Herald & Review highlights his introduction of a fee on fuel purchases approved February 2016 as a hallmark of his tenure in Decatur. That tax – 5 cents per gallon on unleaded gasoline and 1 cent per gallon for diesel fuel – came on top of Decatur’s already-high tax burden. Decatur politicians have long depended on tax hikes to compensate for its declining population. In addition to the fuel tax, Decatur officials have instituted a food and beverage tax and raised the city’s property tax levy as quick fixes intended to offset the city’s shrinking tax base.

But Bloomington and Decatur aren’t the only Illinois cities that have awarded exorbitant salaries to city managers. Mount Prospect and Joliet each pay their city managers around $215,000, while Des Plaines’ city manager collects a salary of $198,830. When Decatur increased Gleason’s salary in March, Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe reasoned that Gleason’s contract was a “bargain,” since Joliet’s city manager had been earning a higher salary.

But one municipality’s fiscal irresponsibility should not justify another’s. Instead, local governments should look at spending reforms to lessen their residents’ tax burden. According to property data company ATTOM Data Solutions, the average effective property tax rate in McLean County, where Bloomington is the county seat, was 2.46 percent in 2017 – more than double the national average. Bloomington officials should bear that in mind before poaching high-priced officials with taxpayer money.

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