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The Rochester City Council voted 5-2 last week to approve a major pay raise for themselves and Mayor Kim Norton despite an outcry from many constituents.

The council initially had proposed an even bigger increase but balked in the face of heavy criticism.

Speaking before the vote, several Rochester residents drew applause when they chastised the council for proposing an increase of 109% for Norton, 134% for Council President Randy Staver and 142% for other City Council members.

When the proposal was presented in December, Brad Traman said, “This got slipped into the new business hoping your constituents wouldn’t find out about it until after the fact.”

Rich Daly urged the council to study the issue further and sell it to constituents, “rather than just sort of ramming it down people’s throats.”

Othelmo da Silva called the size of the proposed pay hikes unconscionable.

“It’s a self-serving move,” he said. “Fix it, please.”

Steve Yahee expressed dismay at the proposed pay hikes.

“I grew up in this town. It’s my town. I love this town. And it’s the first time I’ve ever felt this concerned about the judgment and the rationale being used by a Rochester city government and City Council,” Yahee said.

“Point blank: I think you really lost your credibility and our trust on this one.”

The council approved lower raises suggested by Council Member Annalissa Johnson. The mayor will get $65,700, a 74.5% increase; the council president will get $47,305, up 70.5%; and council members will receive $39,420, up 81.6%.

Staver, who also had suggested a smaller raise, and Council Member Shaun Palmer, who said he didn’t expect a raise when he ran a year ago, voted no.

Dan Browning

Rochester

City Council tables proposed parking lot

A controversial proposal to convert an 11.33-acre site of an old Kmart store into a surface parking lot for 10 years was tabled last week by the Rochester City Council in the wake of fierce neighborhood opposition.

Camegaran LLC, which owns the lot, wants to offer 729 parking stalls initially, then raze the building and add 654 more. The company plans to develop the site for other uses.

The Mayo Clinic said it needs the parking spaces for employees.

Neighboring residents complained that the proposal would add traffic to a congested area and fails to comply with city parking plans.

Dan Browning