City Council President Nick Mosby hasn’t gotten what he wants, but he’s about to get something.
Last week, Mosby called it “unconscionable” that he’s not been able to fill nine positions created for him by outgoing Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young over the objections of then-Council President Brandon Scott.
A $700,000-plus supplemental appropriation was needed to fund the positions, and Scott, after becoming mayor in December, has shown little interest in expanding the scope of his former job when the municipal budget is deeply stressed by the Covid pandemic.
“It is my goal and my mission to create the most professionalized, the most ready Council to tackle the serious issues at this critical time in our city’s history,” Mosby told WYPR’s Tom Hall last Thursday, saying he needed people with in-depth knowledge to supplement the 27 full-time staffers that now make up his office.
“Every other major city legislative body has individuals to actually do that analysis, to understand and know the pressure points, the unintended consequences and, ultimately, how much this is going to cost the city,” he argued.
Hardball in Private
At City Hall, Mosby is more blunt. He and his aides have let it be known that Scott appointees who need Council confirmation may be held up if he doesn’t get those positions, sources tell The Brew.
This week Mosby made some headway. Four current positions in his office are scheduled to be upgraded at tomorrow’s BOE meeting.
The upgrades won’t come cheap. They will collectively cost taxpayers more than $215,000, according to a memo written by Human Resources Director Quinton M. Herbert.
The upgrades include converting a Staff Assistant slot to an Operations Manager I position, resulting in a $84,528 boost in staff costs.
There’s also a $74,071 increase for a new Operations Officer V and $57,533 for two upgraded Operations Specialist I’s.
Only one of the upgraded positions appears to involve analyzing legislation and penning “fiscal notes” that Mosby expressed such enthusiasm for on WYPR.
The three other jobs revolve around public relations – composing and responding to press inquiries, managing public campaigns initiated by the Council president, monitoring community issues and/or concerns, providing ongoing updates to the public and “assisting with the production of the office newsletter,” according to Herbert’s memo.
3/3/21 UPDATE: The Board of Estimates unanimously approved the salary upgrades requested by Mosby, with Mosby himself voting in favor of the upgrades. Typically, a board member abstains from voting on spending items that directly affect his office or staff.
Yvonne Wenger, Mosby’s director of communications, said the salary hikes represent a restructuring of the office within the existing budget.
“The reclassification of these positions is no different than the routine reclassification of positions regularly seen on this agenda. Council President Mosby is intent on building a professional and functional legislative body, and he is very proud of those who have joined the team,” she emailed The Brew.
Hires by Scott and Henry
Both Scott and Comptroller Bill Henry have also submitted job reclassifications to the Board of Estimates.
Changes in Scott’s office, including the establishment of a chief administrator, have come from reallocated funds within the mayor’s 2021 budget.
Scott’s first-100-day agenda calls for additional personnel, such as a chief equity officer and a yet-unnamed director of public works. Salaries for those positions will come out of agency budgets and are subject to review by the City Council and Mosby.
Last month, Comptroller Bill Henry hired Andrew B. “Andy” Frank, a former deputy mayor, to fill a vacant real estate department slot. The hire added $60,000 to the cost of the position, according to the Department of Human Relations.
3/3/21 UPDATE: Henry’s office says the funds for Frank were already in the comptroller’s budget.
Mosby says that the positions he wants were, in effect, sanctioned by voters when they approved Question F on the November ballot and handed the Council new responsibilities.
The charter amendment will allow the legislative body to shift or add money to the mayor’s proposed budget beginning in fiscal 2022.
As it now stands, the Council can cut funds from the budget, but only the mayor has the power to increase or reallocate money among city agencies and projects.