ST. PETERSBURG — With some council members concerned about costs, scrutiny is to be expected on how Mayor Rick Kriseman compensates his staff.
Since he took office in 2014, some eyebrows have raised about the expanding mayoral office budget.
But while he's spending more money on his staff than his predecessor, Bill Foster, Kriseman has also transferred more personnel and funding to his office.
Examples include Sustainability Manager Sharon Wright's salary and benefits and those of Education and Community Engagement Director Leah McRae, arts funding, an expanded marketing effort and more money for Midtown in the Urban Affairs department.
Out of a total operational budget of $236 million, Kriseman's office budget has increased from $2.3 million to $4 million since taking office.
Where is the money going?
Some of it is for increased wages and benefits ($467,242), but a portion of that is due to personnel shifts like Wright and McRae.
Kriseman's salary has increased 3 percent to $173,938. The biggest increase so far has been for Kevin King, Kriseman's chief of staff, whose salary grew from $105,000 to $116,000 last year, up about 10 percent. Those salaries don't include any raises either might receive this year.
The projected budget has $44,642 more planned for salaries, but individual raises haven't been calculated yet for the mayor's office or other departments, said Tom Greene, the city's budget director.
The biggest jump in the mayor's office budget is in a category called "Grants and Aid." In fact, that increase — from $89,000 in 2015-16 to a projected $1.3 million for next year— makes up about 80 percent of the overall increase for Kriseman's office.
Most of that money is arts funding that was previously budgeted elsewhere and $750,000 in an new initiative to mentor and train at-risk youth in Midtown, Greene said.
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