Duluth Mayor Ness turns down City Council-approved raiseUPDATE: Despite a City Council vote Monday evening to boost the salary for the mayor’s position from $78,000 to $97,500 — a 25 percent increase — Ness said he will refuse the raise.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
A visibly humble Duluth Mayor Don Ness stood with his wife, Laura, on Tuesday at City Hall and announced that they had come to a reflective decision during the morning routine with their three children. They won’t take the money.
Despite a City Council vote Monday evening to boost the salary for the mayor’s position from $78,000 to $97,500 — a 25 percent increase — Ness said he will refuse the raise.
“It’s been uncomfortable and a bit painful,” Ness said of the past week of discussion around the raise.
He chose to remain silent until the discussion was voted on by the council. He expected that whatever it decided would ease his comfort level around the topic.
“There wasn’t that sense of relief I was hoping for,” Ness said. “I couldn’t sleep.”
Any amount of a raise would have led to the same decision, Ness said. While he appreciates the council taking up the issue of mayoral pay, the first time it has been done in 14 years, he wants to see any raise come after his term is up.
“It’s been too long since this issue was addressed,” he said.
Chief Administrative Officer David Montgomery said after Ness’ announcement that the money Ness refuses simply will stay in the general fund. The council voted to make the raise effective Dec. 1.
The Nesses talked about what to do this morning.
“We’re just thankful we have healthy and vibrant children,” Laura Ness said.
“We have been blessed in so many ways,” Mayor Ness said. He said it would be difficult to serve the community while accepting the raise. He said he couldn’t exactly explain why, but it didn’t feel right.
The sense of relief came after breakfast with the family, Ness said, adding that it “reflects our values and service to this community.”
He said it was difficult to send his children off to school knowing that some of the household incomes of classmates’ families equal the nearly $20,000 raise.