Mayor DeGraw was paid $40K a year

Published August 23, 2019 by justicewg

An ordinance passed back in 2013 set the base pay for the Mayor of Grandview Heights. At that time Ray DeGraw was earning $30K per year for a part-time position. With the knowledge that the Grandview Yard development would add to the complexity of the position, and the increasing number of constituents ringing his phone and sending him email, the council boosted the pay up to $36K, followed by annual increases to $40K as he ends his term.

Ray always joked that he was being paid peanuts compared to the workload the Mayor position demands. He must oversee the spending of the city, create new budgets, manage all the employees, respond to the many contacts with residents, and run the Mayor’s court. Add in the complex negotiations needed to oversee the Yard and the follow on SOG development – then throw in the Grandview Crossing development on 33 – and it becomes almost ridiculous the he would be paid so little, given the high stakes.

And don’t forget – a part-time Mayor must also work a regular job.

The city council voted to give some boosts to the Mayor’s salary, starting in 2020 it will be $48K, increasing to $52K by 2023.

But facts can’t be bent – Grandview is the smallest city in Franklin County. Our tax base is increasing, but still small enough that the Mayor position must be part time, given the resources of the city.

With an annual budget of only $15 Million (similar to Canal Winchester), it would be extravagant to pay for a full time Mayor.

Switch to a professional city manager appointed by city council?

Other cities in Franklin Co. (Hilliard in 2018) have been switching to a professional city manager instead of a Mayor. The idea is that unlike a Mayor who might come into the position from any background, a professional city manager would be trained (at least a Master of Public Administration degree) and experienced enough to quickly fit into the job. The manager would be updated with the educational programs specifically aimed at city managers, and be focused on doing the job the city council needed to have done, without worrying about running for office every four years.

Grandview does have a Director of Administration, but as Pat Bowman is already working in that position, and as head of development, his job is as stretched as DeGraw’s. Finding a replacement for him may only make sense with a professional manager who could wear both the hat of the Mayor and the work that Bowman currently does.

Gray heads have more time for the workload

Ray DeGraw has long experience as Mayor, but it must be noted that he has reached the age at which he is not forced to chose between kids and the work (and Ray has often said that he wishes he had more time for his wife). That long experience – and the focus he has on the work – will be nearly impossible to replace, given the wide skill set needed for his position.

Neither of the candidates for the Mayor’s office have the gray hair that would be better for the position.

I am aware that pointing out which candidate has kids makes me open for accusations of sexism – but I hold that I would be pointing out the kids of the male candidate too (if he had any). I just don’t understand why anyone would take on the workload that DeGraw strained under, for only $48K a year – and then added raising a family, and working a second job.

I think that Grandview Heights would be better served if it went with a professional manager. You might get lucky and find a person with the talent of a DeGraw, and that person might want to run for office. What happens to that person if they don’t get re-elected to the Mayor term after four years, and have to re-start a full time career?

I don’t think either of the current candidates will measure up to Ray. I think the best long term choice is to hire a person with the talent for the job.

More to come on this issue – I will contact the candidates about switching to a professional manager, or folding the Director of Administration into the Mayor’s duties and turning it into a full time position.

3 comments on “Mayor DeGraw was paid $40K a year

  • John,

    I follow your posts and enjoy the facts and opinions presented. In this post, I appreciate the discussion about what responsibilities are appropriate for our mayor and whether it makes sense to create a new professional city manager role.

    However, I believe you are off target when it comes to questioning why an individual chooses to take on a responsibility that is likely to be a thankless hardship. I don’t know either candidate well enough to answer that question for them, but I do know that there are countless families that have children where both parents work in some capacity (part or full time). I am not in public office, but in my household sometimes my wife needs to travel out of town and sometimes I do. Neither of us are always happy with that, but we have a balance that we believe offers a good quality of life for our family.

    Even beyond public service positions, there are thousands of service industry jobs that require individuals to work when others play. I don’t think you or I should judge their livelihoods – let them make that choice and only judge how well they provide the service.

    I don’t believe you revisit and edit your posts, but I do think an addendum or edit that states your belief that Ray will not be easily replaced without placing a negative connotation on candidates’ private work-life balance decisions would be more appropriate in my opinion.

    Thank you,


    • I said “I just don’t understand why anyone would take on the workload that DeGraw strained under, for only $48K a year”. Was that a negative hit to the candidates? Or just a question about why a person would do the part time job, along with a second job and family commitments. The criticism I have is for a city that demands so much from a Mayor, and also demands they work part time. That is why I suggest the city go to a professional city manager.

      There is a critique of society that asks why so many drive themselves to burnout with long hours and stressful work. And part of that question is “why is our work-life structured so that long hours and burnout are needed to advance up the ladder?” Should we look to answers by changing individuals, or the way we structure work? Is it wrong to point to both?

      I’m waiting for the readers who will imply I am ageist for suggesting that a grey hair would be a better mayor.

  • Disagree that a full time mayor would be extravagant. Maybe if the job were, in fact, part time, the current pittance would be appropriate. But the reality is that we are a city in flux, with many management responsibilities and complex negotiations ahead of us. How much additional would a full time may cost us? For simplicity, let’s say it’s an additional $100k. That’s less than 7 basis points on the budget.

    As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Perhaps if the pay were more in line with the job description, we’d have better candidates to choose from.

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