DULUTH, Minn. - Don Ness is politician who marches to the beat of his own drummer.
Just hours after the Duluth City Council voted to give it's mayor a 25 percent raise -- we're talking $20,000 -- Ness announced he would be turning it down.
As Duluth's top elected city official the raise would have pushed his salary from $78,000 to $97,500 per year.
Ness announced he would be turning down his salary increase on his Facebook page. He wrote:
After a long and prayerful night, Laura and I have decided not to accept the raise passed by the city council last night. I will explain my rationale later today, but I am absolutely convinced this is the right thing to do.
Thanks for all the support out there on this uncomfortable discussion. Please know that this is not at all driven in reaction to the hateful voices out there, rather it's motivated by an overwhelming sense of being blessed by this community and not needing anything more from a community that has given us so much.
I do believe that the mayor's salary should be adjusted - but that would be most appropriately done after the next election. I think it is very important that this important policy decision be made with the position in mind and not the person - hopefully taking this action will help separate the issue.
City Councilor Sharla Gardner initially had proposed the mayor receive retroactive pay for all of 2013, which would have pushed the increase even higher.
She noted that the mayor's salary had not been adjusted since January 2000. Gardner said that if the mayor had received pay increases commensurate with those provided to other unionized city staff, he would now be receiving an annual salary of $103,740.
Ness says he would have turned down any size of a raise and wants to see the issue addressed after his term ends. Chief Administrative Officer David Montgomery says the money will simply stay in the city's general fund.
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