By Gregg Jones

Union Missourian Editor

Alderman agreed to a pay hike Monday that nearly doubles the salary of elected officials beginning next year.

The Union Board of Aldermen approved an ordinance that will increase the annual pay of aldermen from $2,000 to $3,900.

The measure was approved by a 6-1 vote with Alderman Vicki Jo Hooper voted against the salary increase. Alderman Dale Schmuke was not at the meeting.

The new law impacts only aldermen who are elected April 2013. It will go into effect May 1, 2013.

Aldermen Bob Schmuke, Dale Schmuke, Paul Arand and David Pope, whose terms do not expire next year, will not receive a raise unless they are re-elected in 2014.

Earlier this month, City Administrator Russell Rost said $3,900 was just below the average pay of aldermen in Missouri cities with similar populations and budgets as Union.

The last pay increase for aldermen was in 1987.

He has said that a survey was conducted among Missouri cities through the Missouri Municipal League (MML). Rost used information from the 11 cities that are the most similar in size and budget to Union.

Rost said the item has been placed on the committee’s agenda in October each year so it can be discussed before filing for city offices opens in December.

This year, filing opened Dec. 11. The terms of Aldermen Jim Albrecht, Ward 1; Vicki Jo Hooper, Ward 2; Dustin Bailey, Ward 3; and Karen Erwin, Ward 4; are set to expire in April.

City Attorney Tim Melenbrink has said that once filing opens, the salaries should remain the same. However, if they choose to change the salaries, it can be done at the appropriate time.

Two years ago, the city agreed to increase the pay of the municipal judge position to bring it in line with other local city judges.

That decision was made prior to an election for the city judge position in April 2011.

The city judge earns $5,484 and the mayor earns $6,000.

According to the figures presented by Rost, the average pay for mayors in similar cities is more than $9,000.

Officials will wait to address a pay increase for the mayor’s position. Mayor Mike Livengood’s term will end in 2015.

It is the opinion of the MML that an elected official can be given a raise anytime before an election is certified.