News Story

Pandemic ‘Put Communities Through Hell’? Not As Measured By Government Pay Hikes

Lobbying group for local officials has made the claim

Lansing Mayor Andy Schor has been outspoken in his views on the impact of COVID-19 on government funding.

“The City of Lansing, like cities across the nation, are dealing with major economic impacts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Schor said in a March 22 press release.

When the Michigan Municipal League put together talking points for local government leaders looking for more federal funding, it included the following: “This pandemic has put our communities through hell.”

But it’s hard to detect much pandemic hell in Michigan’s government payrolls, given what appear to be substantial pay increases in Dearborn, Rochester, Westland, and other localities, as reported by Michigan Capitol Confidential.

In Lansing, the mayor benefited from a pay raise in 2020. Schor’s gross pay went from $132,499 in 2019 to $137,139. Many of the staffers who worked in his office had a pay raise as well.

Samantha Harkins, deputy mayor, saw her gross pay increase from $108,616 in 2019 to $132,369 in 2020. Harkins has stepped down from her position as deputy mayor and now works part time for the mayor on special projects.

Nicholas Tate, deputy mayor for operations and chief of staff, was promoted to his current position in June 2020. His gross pay increased from $86,262 in 2019 to $99,821 in 2020.

David Maxwell is senior pastor of Eliezer Temple Church in Lansing. He holds other titles and positions in ministries in Michigan and elsewhere.

Maxwell also serves as director of the mayor’s Office of Community and Faith Based Initiatives. Maxwell’s pay with the city increased from $29,711 in 2019 to $32,430 in 2020.

There were four other employees in the mayor’s office, three of whom received gross pay increases in 2020.

Compensation paid to someone with the title of citizen advocate rose from $54,014 to $57,491. A graphic designer was promoted in 2020 and experienced a pay increase from $27,169 to $44,013.

The mayor’s communications manager experienced a pay increase, going from $58,261 to $62,136.

Schor’s office manager was the only staffer to see a decrease in gross pay, which dropped from $58,679 to $56,500.

As Michigan Capitol Confidential reported in March, “The income that Michigan residents earned from employment dropped by 2% in 2020. Net payroll earnings in the state were $330.5 billion in 2020, down from $337.3 billion in 2019. Only seven other states experienced a larger percentage drop in residents’ earnings in the year of the pandemic, according to figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.”

Michigan’s public sector has largely been immune from the economic devastation that has ravaged the private sector under government-mandated lockdowns ordered in response the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, according to the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, governments throughout Michigan will receive just over $10 billion in federal funds from the recent $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Schor’s office didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.


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.