Bloomington city council OKs hire of next administrator/attorney at $85K

Without stating at their Wednesday meeting how much they planned to pay him, Bloomington city councilmembers approved the hire of Stephen Lucas as their next administrator/attorney.

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In this Square Beacon file photo, Stephen Lucas (right) confers with city attorney Mike Rouker during a Bloomington city council meeting.

Lucas is the current deputy to Dan Sherman, who is retiring at the end of July, after around 30 years on the job of administrator/attorney.

Responding to an emailed query from The Square Beacon, Lucas said the job will pay him $85,000.

His current salary for the deputy position is $66,300, he said.

According to the state’s salary database, Lucas was paid $47,262 in 2019—he served for part of the year as deputy clerk. In 2019, Sherman, the current administrator/attorney, was paid $92,730.

At the end of May, the nine-member council voted 9–0 to make Lucas an offer, without posting the position or conducting a search. Last week, the council postponed a vote on hiring Lucas, because some councilmembers wanted to know what salary Lucas would be paid and how that number was determined.

The task of negotiating salary and employment conditions was delegated to council president Steve Volan and council vice president Jim Sims.

Sims told The Square Beacon that for the subsequent filling of the deputy’s position there would be a “full, wide net cast for folks who could fill that position.” He cautioned that just because a diverse applicant pool is recruited doesn’t mean that the person hired will necessarily come from a historically underserved community.

The Square Beacon has made a request under Indiana’s Search Results Access to Public Records Act for the information that councilmembers were provided about the hire before Wednesday’s vote.

Bloomington city council’s personnel budget for 2020—including the compensation for city councilmembers—is $591,692. The figure, which is the category “personal services” in the state’s budget database, includes salaries, taxes, benefits and retirement.

Based on The Square Beacon’s initial review of 2020 city budgets statewide,  Bloomington’s city council personnel budget looks like it’s the highest of any second-class city in the state. (The city of Fishers does not appear to break down the mayor’s office and the city council office into separate categories.) Second class-cities are those with population 35,000 to 599,999. Indianapolis is the only first-class city in the state.

It’s Bloomington’s city council staff compensation—not the salaries of councilmembers—that makes the Bloomington council’s personnel budget higher than other similar cities. Bloomington city councilmembers are making $18,307 this year.

In 2019, Gary city councilmembers were paid $28,726, which is almost 60 percent more than their Bloomington counterparts, according to the state’s salary database. But Gary’s city council personnel budget of $589,292 was about the same as Bloomington’s.

The $31,835 that Hammond city councilmembers made in 2019 is about 70 percent more than what Bloomington’s local legislators took home, but Hammond’s total council compensation budget, according to the state’s database, was $468,260, or about $120,000 less than Bloomington’s.

For similar-sized cities, Bloomington’s clerk’s office has one of the smallest personnel budgets—it’s $241,910 in 2020. This year Hammond’s clerk’s office has a personnel budget of $482,584.

At last week’s meeting, Bloomington city council vice president Jim Sims foreshadowed some possible changes to the balance of responsibilities between the council’s administrator/attorney and the clerk’s office.

Sims said it’s very important how the administrator/attorney works with the city clerk and her office. More than just two or three people would need to be a part of deciding any changes that would be involved, Sims said.

The city clerk is an elected position with some duties described in local code. The first item on the list of clerk’s duties is:

(1) Serve as secretary of the council and keep an accurate record of all proceedings;”

Further down on the list is:

(5) Maintain complete and orderly files containing all papers and documents pertaining to the business of the council and make them available to the council and the public;

If the files described in (5) are analyzed as including the information packets for city council meetings, then the information packets would be in the bailiwick of the clerk’s office. They’re currently handled by the administrator/attorney.

Sims said that Lucas’s experience working as Nicole Bolden’s deputy clerk would be helpful for the working relationship between the two offices.

According to Lucas’s Linkedin resume, he’s been on the job as attorney/administrator for about nine months. Before that he was city clerk Nicole Bolden’s chief deputy for about three years.

Lucas’s other work as an attorney, after graduating from Indiana University School of Law in 2014, was for a couple of years as an associate attorney at Pittman, Emery & Nikirk, a Bedford firm.

2 thoughts on “Bloomington city council OKs hire of next administrator/attorney at $85K

  1. I was very disappointed that the council was not more forthcoming about the terms of the agreement such as length of employment, salary, benefits, and what was discussed in emails among the council members. Isabel mentioned their emails.

    I support Stephen’s hiring, just not the lack of transparency around the process. I have shared that concern with several council members

  2. After publication of this article Lucas emailed The Square Beacon to say that his earlier email had contained a mistake. The job pays $85,500.

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