Carmel Clerk-Treasurer claims gender discrimination in city salary ordinance

CARMEL - Carmel Clerk-Treasurer Christine Pauley says she is being excluded from a proposed series of salary increases because she is a woman.

In a letter sent to the Carmel City Council, Christine Pauley says the salary ordinance being taken up by the council this week amounts to gender discrimination, violating the U.S. and Indiana Constitutions.

“There were a total of 525 positions evaluated in the study and the clerk treasurer position is the only one to be excluded," Pauley's letter states.

The salary ordinance is based on a wage survey conducted by The Archer Company, which compared Carmel to other cities of its size, with similar costs-of-living. The proposal includes salary increases for employees across Carmel city government, approximately three percent for rank and file employees and between six and 18 percent for department directors.

Mayor Jim Brainard would see a roughly $50,000 raise, from $127,946 to $179,344 next year.  That would make Brainard the highest-paid mayor in the state.  Brainard would also be taking in more than Governor Mike Pence and Indiana’s members of Congress.  He would also make far more than Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, whose current salary is $95,000.

"This is about resetting our salaries for our department heads and assistant department heads," said Brainard, "Unfortunately, the salary for my position has lagged far behind city managers salaries. In Indiana, the mayors are city managers."

"I've had more inquiries from the media than I have from citizens," said Carmel City Council President Ron Carter, "I think altogether I've had five inquiries from citizens."

All of Hamilton County’s mayors make more than Mayor Hogsett.  Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness makes $125,000, Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear makes $112,448, and Westfield Mayor Andy Cook makes $108,200

The ordinance also includes salary increases for other Carmel city departments, including police and fire departments.  Carmel City Council members would see their salaries increase from $17,246 to $22,167.

There is no tax increase expected in the 2017 Carmel city budget.  There was a 19 percent property tax increase this year.  Those dollars go to the city’s General Fund, which pays for city employees’ salaries.

The ordinance was first introduced at a council meeting Monday night, where a handful of residents showed up to speak out against it.

"I think it's out of line," said Chuck Ford, in his address to the council.

"There is a process by which you measure the value of an employee, and that is generally done through some sort of performance review, not arbitrary awarding of a salary increase," said John Curtis, a Carmel resident.

Pauley’s salary in 2017 would only include a 2 percent cost-of-living increase, from $104,656 to $106,749, based on the current salary ordinance.  The Archer Company survey found the minimum salary for clerk treasurer should be $107,671.  The midpoint was $129,206 and the maximum was $150,740.

Pauley’s letter says there have been past comments and instances of discrimination against her based on her sex:

“Throughout my tenure with the City of Carmel as the only full-time female office holder, there have been statements and commentary made as to my attire, dating as a single female, repeated demands that I not participate in public functions as an elected official, but “remain in my office,” and the insinuation as to the performance of my duties as Clerk Treasurer all based on my sex - female.”

Pauley’s letter states that the issue was previously tabled and Carmel City Council President Ron Carter has refused to meet with her to discuss the matter.

She spoke during the council meeting, saying the matter was about equal pay for equal work. She said she felt like she's being punished for running her office under her terms.

"This is surprising, and it is hurtful. I am a newly-elected official here in the city of Carmel. I ran for clerk-treasurer because I wanted to make a difference," she told us afterward.

The salary increase ordinance was forwarded on to the finance committee which meets next Monday.