News Story

East Lansing Officials Prospered In Pandemic

Like many Michigan local governments, state lockdowns were accompanied by big raises

The city of East Lansing, like so many other Michigan municipalities during the COVID-19 pandemic, delivered hefty pay hikes to many of its officials and workers in 2020.

Here are the changes in gross pay received by top city managers from 2019 to 2020. The salary data came from the city in response to a Freedom of Information Act request:

City Manager George Lahanas: $174,900 to $184,786

Director of Public Works Scott House: $115,770 to $124,718

Finance Director Jill Feldpausch: $125,463 to $137,101

Fire Chief Randall Talifarro: $133,131 to $140,568

Director of Human Resources Shelli Neumann: $112,367 to $121,883

Director of East Lansing Pubic Library Kristin Shelley: $124,864 to $133,812

City Assessor David Lee: $104,095 to $111,332

Court Administrator Nicole Evans: $115,251 to $122,828

The superintendent of the water resource recovery facility saw his gross pay increase from $93,230 in 2019 to $106,310 in 2020.

The sum of the gross pay received by all East Lansing city employees rose from $21,845,303 in 2019 to $22,802,272 in 2020, a 4.35% increase.

Lahanas said in an email the city had an extra pay period in 2020 compared to 2019. There were 27 pay periods in 2020 while just 26 in the previous year. He said it was just a matter of timing in the city’s biweekly pay periods.

Lahanas also stated that the cost-of-living adjustments for nonunion employees ranged from 0% to 3% during the years 2011 through 2020.

“This reflects a 1.25% wage increase per year over the preceding 10-year period. The public sector took longer to recover post-2008, so looking at one year does not provide the full picture,” Lahanas said in an email.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is reviewing the salaries of public sector employees across the state.

Last May, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told Michigan residents, “We’re all in this together.”

While many thousands of private sector workers here lost jobs and income under state-ordered lockdowns, public sector employees appear to have been protected and in many cases done very well.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.