Rossford council pay on ballot
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Thursday, 24 October 2013 10:21
ROSSFORD - Rossford voters will be asked to give pay increases to members of City Council and the mayor by approving amendments to the city charter.
One amendment would hike pay for members of council to $8,400 annually up from $3,000, and for council president to $9,000 annually, up from $3,300. The other would increase the pay for mayor to $18,000, up from $7,500.
The pay hikes were first approved by council in January, but later rescinded. The move to increase the pay was prompted by a change in the state retirement system that raised the amount officials needed to be paid in order to be eligible for a state retirement system pension.
Council pay has not been raised in 20 years.
Also, a survey showed that Rossford's mayor and council members were, with one exception, the lowest-paid in the area.
Council could have just approved the raises, but then only newly elected officials would receive the increases. The charter amendment would mean all council members receive the same pay.
At the time council voted to put the amendments on the ballot, Mayor Neil MacKinnon III said he favored council pay increases but did not want his pay increased.
Council President Larry Oberdorf insisted it be included, saying the issue was not about a particular person, rather about the position.
Whether council's pay should be hiked came up as the first question at Tuesday's "meet the candidates" night for city council.
Candidate Robert Densic, who spoke against the raises when they were proposed, said he was asking citizens to vote "no."
"This job is about service," he said. "This is about giving back to the community."
He said the reason the state change raised the threshold to get a pension from the Public Employees Retirement System, is that the system is in trouble.
PERS, he said, was meant for full-time public employees not city officials who work "10, 15, 20 hours a month."
Caroline Eckel, an incumbent seeking re-election, said the raises were a long time in coming. "That's why it looks like such a huge amount."
She said bringing the issue to the voters was the right approach. Voting "yes" would be "a vote of confidence" meaning "we are doing an OK job, and we deserve it."
She added that new pay "is still not reflective of the time we put in."
Later in the forum, when the three incumbents were asked how much time their positions on council involved, Chuck Duricek estimated 10 to 15 hours a week. He said he was probably the easiest to find member of council because for 12 hours a day, he's at his car and boat repair business in downtown.
Jerry Staczek said he may spend up to 20 hours a week.
"I'm not in it for the money," he said. He confessed he wasn't even aware it was a paid position when he first ran unopposed to fill an unexpired term seat two years ago. He said regardless of the outcome of the charter amendment vote, he'll get up the day after the election "to do his job."
Eckel said "it was impossible to quantify the number of hours spent on city council" because whenever she's out in public people approach her about city business. Anyone who thinks they can quantify the time spent probably doesn't understand the nature of the position.
Duricek said that council should have approved the pay raises in the process spelled out in the charter.
Candidate Dennis Foy said he was in favor of the hike because pay hasn't been increased for so long.
Daniel Walker said council was right to leave it up to the citizens to decide.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 November 2013 22:14