Lima’s new mayor to be paid top dollar


By Jim Krumel - jkrumel@limanews.com



Lima Mayor David Berger earned $125,811 in 2020, the highest of similarly sized cities in Ohio. He announced his plans to retire, and whichever of the four candidates to replace him gets the job, that person will begin the job at Berger’s $125,811 salary plus a cost of living increase.

Lima Mayor David Berger earned $125,811 in 2020, the highest of similarly sized cities in Ohio. He announced his plans to retire, and whichever of the four candidates to replace him gets the job, that person will begin the job at Berger’s $125,811 salary plus a cost of living increase.


File photo | The Lima News

LIMA — The person who voters select in November to be Lima’s new mayor will inherit David Berger’s nearly $126,000 salary — one that took Berger 32 years to earn and is as much as $38,000 higher than mayoral salaries in some similar-sized Ohio cities.

As part of The Lima News’ 28th annual public salary study, the newspaper looked at four similar-sized cities to compare salaries paid to mayors, police chiefs, fire chiefs and council members. The cities were selected using the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey, which ranked Ohio’s 1,213 cities by population. A public information request was then made to officials from those four cities, who didn’t hesitate to comply.

Lima was found to pay a higher wage in every category.

The findings and city population rankings:

No. 35 Lima

Population: 37,117

Mayor salary: $125,811

Police chief: $112,735

Fire chief: $99,580

City council: $12,875

• No. 22 Mansfield

Population: 46,576

Mayor salary: $86,481

Police chief: $97,056

Fire chief: $95,031

City council: $7,988

• No. 27 Findlay

Population: 41,325

Mayor salary: $81,352

Police chief: $103,334

Fire chief: $97,178

City council: $7,616

• No. 33 Warren

Population: 39,037

Mayor salary: $87,788

Police chief: $90,870

Fire chief: $90,870

City council: $11,110

• No. 37 Marion

Population 36,188

Mayor salary: $69,900

Police chief: $118,368, which includes longevity payouts.

Fire chief: $101,105

City council: $7,300

New Lima mayor

While the Lima mayoral salary is already significantly higher than the comparable-sized cities above, the difference in pay could grow.

“The new mayor’s salary will be whatever the current mayor leaves at, plus whatever the cost of living increase will be. We won’t know that number until November because we use the October number to determine the increase,” said Lima City Auditor Randall Bartels.

Lima City Law Director Tony Geiger said it is common practice for new government employees to assume the rate of pay of the person whose job they are taking.

“I don’t know of any elected position, from federal to local, where the new person starts at anything different than the old person,” Geiger said.

In Findlay, however, the mayor’s salary is set by an ad-hoc committee chaired by one of the city council members and composed of an outside human resource professional, the city law director, the city human resource director and two other city council members, said Don Essex, the city’s human resource director.

That was last done prior to Christina Muryn winning the Findlay mayoral election in 2019 and taking office in 2020.

“A salary review was conducted, and the committee made recommendations based on extensive research. An ordinance was voted on and approved by council. This was last done at the end of 2018 and sets the mayoral salary for 2020-2023” at $81,352, Essex said.

Greg Lawson, a research fellow for The Buckeye Institute, an independent free-market think tank, said the system used by Findlay works well as long as the pay rate is established in a non-election year.

“Every city establishes pay a little bit differently under home rule, but typically the person who is succeeding an outgoing mayor takes over at the current pay level,” Lawson said. “What Findlay is doing raises the more interesting question, which is, what can be done to modify a salary if it is believed to be too high or too low.”

Lima Mayor David Berger earned $125,811 in 2020, the highest of similarly sized cities in Ohio. He announced his plans to retire, and whichever of the four candidates to replace him gets the job, that person will begin the job at Berger’s $125,811 salary plus a cost of living increase.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/03/web1_Berger.jpgLima Mayor David Berger earned $125,811 in 2020, the highest of similarly sized cities in Ohio. He announced his plans to retire, and whichever of the four candidates to replace him gets the job, that person will begin the job at Berger’s $125,811 salary plus a cost of living increase. File photo | The Lima News

By Jim Krumel

jkrumel@limanews.com

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