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It is a morally bankrupt form of Class Warfare for Grand Rapids City Officials to receive significant salary increases while so many fight to survive

December 15, 2021

In the midst of a pandemic, with thousands of families struggling to make ends meet, a serious housing crisis, and the Michigan minimum wage set to increase from an insulting $9.65 to a still insulting $9.87, some Grand Rapids City officials will see a significant increase in their already well compensated salary.

MLive reported that both City Manager Mark Washington and City Attorney Anita Hitchcock will see their salaries increase. The MLive article stated:

If the pay range changes are approved, Washington’s current salary would place him at the fourth step of the pay schedule, with increases to $287,032 and finally $303,196 still ahead.

As for Hitchcock, she would get a bump up to at least the first and lowest level of the new pay range, $169,096. She would then have increases of $176,276, $183,456, $190,636, $197,816 and finally $204,996 ahead.

To add insult to injury, the Fiscal Committee approved the salary increases, with City Commissioners expected to have approved the salary increase at last night’s City Commission meeting.

Such a move by City Officials is unconscionable, especially considering how many people in this community are being subjected to live in poverty.

  • Thousands of Grand Rapidians are facing eviction.
  • Tens of thousands are experiencing food insecurity.
  • BIOPC communities continue to experience significant disinvestment in Grand Rapids.
  • Thousands of families are having to chose between paying heating bills or pay health care expenses.
  • Grand Rapids is in the midst of a housing crisis.
  • The COVID rates in Michigan are the highest in the country and Kent County is one of the worst.

On top of all of this, City Manager Mark Washington and City Attorney Anita Hitchcock were the two primary actors who blocked a proposal in July of 2020 by some City Commissioners, a proposal that would reduce police funding to the 1995 City Charter mandate level. Equally important is the fact that the community groups that were calling for defunding the GRPD, were also demanding that the money cut from the GRPD would go directly to Black and Brown residents in Grand Rapids. We have been hearing over and over again, how the southeast part of Grand Rapids has been deliberately ignored when it comes to investment from the City of Grand Rapids.

It is completely baffling that City officials would agree to these salary increases while so many people can’t find work and businesses are closing at an alarming rate. Maybe we expect too much from City officials or maybe we expect Grand Rapids City Officials to serve the public interest. Whether we feel let down or deceived, the reality is that this announcement that City officials will be receiving a substantial salary increase is not only morally bankrupt, it is class warfare, plain and simple.

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