The Town Council on Tuesday broke a trend that has been in effect since 1993 by voting in a salary raise for the mayor's position.
The vote was 11-1 in favor of a recommendation of a bi-partisan ad hoc committee charged with reviewing the salary. Only Republican Adam Weissberger, who said the issue just has bad timing, voted against the measure.
The committee met on Jan. 31 with Chairman Michael Winkler, a Democrat, presiding. Committee members also present were Motola, Democrat Virginia Gingras and Republican Bill Campbell. Guests in attendance were Mayor George Apel and Finance Officer and Treasurer James Luddecke.
The committee's report points out that the mayor's salary has been $20,748 since Nov. 2, 1993. Luddecke said that if the mayor had been receiving the same raises as unionized employees during the time period, the level of compensation would be about $30,000, according to the report.
The raise wold be phased in with about $5,000 coming the first year, Motola said.
Some council members, like Republican Steven Peterson, said it should be more.
In a Patch poll, 42 were in favor of a mayoral raise, 28 were not and one voter did not care.
Winkler said he was told by several taxpayers that the mayor should expect low pay. The position, by Charter is part-time.
"Taxpayers have been telling me the mayor know what he or she is getting into and knows what he or she will get paid. If you have even been on-call 24 hours a day, you know what to expect, but many people have never experienced that," Winkler said. "Also, it's a dangerous dynamic … when you do not think you are getting enough for what you do because the council does not have the political will to increase it. People can become resentful and find creative ways to get what they think they deserve and we want future mayors to know this has been addressed."
Marie Herbst, a former mayor said mayor do know what they are getting themselves into, but added that the timing might be poor, but it has been a long time and the salary needed to be increased. Herbst also said the position was never i ndended to be full-time.
Weissberger was steadfast in saying the timing is bad.
"I have a fond appreciation for anyone who wants to run for elected office in this town, particularly mayor, but the budget discussion we are going to have will present this Town Council with tough choices."
Weissberger acknowledged the raise would not have any budgetary impact until the next mayoral term, but even discussing it this year sets a poor tone.
"I just do not think this is the right time to bring up this proposal," he said.
Republican John Kopec quipped, "Who ever heard of a part-time CEO?" He then suggested the timing might be right for a Charter revision to be examined.
There was some discussion over medical waiver checks given to former mayors. Apel said he wanted to make it "crystal clear" he receives nothing in return for not taking medical benefits from the town.
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