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Despite woes, city budget finds cash for some top mayoral aides

Chicago Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff updating reporters conditiinjured firefighters last summer. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

Chicago Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff updating reporters on the condition of injured firefighters last summer. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 16, 2011 3:45PM

Even with 517 layoffs, $417 million in budget cuts and $220 million in higher taxes, fines and fees, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s first city budget rewards a handful of top mayoral aides.

Fire Commissioner Robert Hoff is in line for a nine percent pay raise — from $185,652 a year to $202,728.

There’s also a nine percent pay hike — to $178,740 — for the newly-appointed deputy commissioner in charge of the scandal-scarred Fire Prevention Bureau.

Hoff dumped the old deputy after firing just four of the 54 firefighters accused of padding mileage expenses to the tune of $100,000 in 2009 alone. Six other firefighters have retired and 43 others face suspensions ranging from 30 to 60 days.

Inspector General Joe Ferguson had recommended that all 54 firefighters be fired and that the Fire Prevention Bureau be disbanded and replace by civilian employees of the Department of Buildings.

While the Chicago Police Department is closing three district stations and eliminating 1,252 police vacancies, Supt. Garry McCarthy’s chief of staff will get a nearly ten percent bump — to $185,004.

The Police Department’s new director of news affairs will be paid $112,008 a year, nearly 9.5 percent more.

Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein gets a nearly eight percent pay raise — to $169,500. A former transportation chief in Washington D.C., Klein is a champion of bike lanes and bike sharing, two of Emanuel’s pet projects.

General Services Commissioner David Reynolds gets a nearly 12 percent bump from his predecessor — from $140,364 to $157,092.

Reynolds was recruited by the mayor to take over the newly-merged Departments of Fleet Management and General Services that has placed all city assets — vehicles, buildings and leases — under one department.

Although the budget for the mayor’s office is down slightly — to just under $6 million — a staff restructuring has resulted in pay cuts for some and eye-popping pay raises for others.

Matt Hynes, director of the Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, is in line for a nearly seven percent raise — from $158,364 to $168,996.

An administrative secretary in the mayor’s office gets a 22 percent pay raise — to $90,000. Four assistants to the mayor would be in line for increases ranging from 14 percent to 41 percent — one earning as much as $162,492.

There are also pay hikes for two deputy chiefs of staff. The budget director and chief financial officer also get a boost, both receiving $169,992-a-year.

Communications Director Chris Mather — whose $162,492 a year salary is eight percent less than her predecessor’s — insisted that most of the increases built into the mayor’s first budget are not really pay raises.

“People aren’t getting raises from now to 2012. This is what they got hired at. And there are a number of younger, entry-level people who came in at a lower amount, so we bumped some of them up to 2012,” Mather said in an e-mail response to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“Hynes, Klein and Reynolds started on May 16 at a higher salary rate than their predecessors in those positions, which is why it looks like an increase in the 2012 budget book. It is not. The salaries for their positions in the budget book reflect the same rate they’ve been earning from the beginning of the administration.”

For years Chicago’s police superintendent and fire commissioner were paid the same to keep both public safety departments on equal footing.

That changed when former Mayor Richard M. Daley hired career FBI agent Jody Weis and agreed to pay him an unprecedented $310,000-a-year. McCarthy’s salary is $260,004 — 16 percent lower than Weis.

Mather said Hoff’s pay raises stems from the fact that the “previous administration agreed to give the same pay raises to police and fire exempts as they did to” rank-and-file employees represented by unions.

“That happened after Jan. 1, but before May 16” when Emanuel was sworn in, she said.

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