A committee agreed Monday that they would not seek salary increases for elected city officials, but they would discuss a mechanism to change salaries for future officials.
Personnel, finance and public works committee members recommended that officials compare salaries of other municipalities with similar budgets and populations.
It had been at least 20 years since aldermen received a salary increase, according to City Clerk Jonita Copeland.
Alderman Dale Schmuke confirmed that he had been on the board for nearly 19 years and the salary for the position has been stagnant.
The salary of aldermen is $2,000 annually. The mayor earns $6,000 and the city judge earns $5,484.
Alderman Dustin Bailey suggested that the city employ a mechanism that would adjust salaries for future officials based on cost of living increases or other factors.
“Who wants to vote to raise their own salary when it is so minimal?” asked Bailey, “but 20 years (without an increase) that seems strange.”
Alderman David Pope added that now is not the time for an increase.
“I don’t think until we are in a better economic time that we do more than the status quo,” said Pope.
Alderman Jim Albrecht said city employees have been given about 18-20 percent increase over the past 20 years.
“Don’t tell me now is a bad economic time,” he said.
Pope said that there should be a way for future salaries to increase without aldermen giving themselves raises.
“It is a poor idea to not have a system in place,” he said.
Aldermen agreed that an increased salary may attract a qualified candidate who may not run otherwise.
City Administrator Russell 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.
City Attorney Tim Melenbrink added that once filing opens, the salaries should remain the same. However, if they choose to change the salaries, it should be done at the appropriate time.
“It is the timing, not the mechanism or amount,” he said.
Mayor Mike Livengood noted that there should be an increase for board members.
“I would like aldermen to receive a bit more for their time and work,” he said.
Livengood said his term is not up for more than two years, and an increase of alderman salaries would not affect the mayor’s position salary.
Next month officials will review the salaries of elected officials in cities with comparable budgets and populations.
“I would like to see like populations and like budgets,” said Alderman Bob Schmuke.
If the committee were to recommend a pay increase, the full board would have to approve a city ordinance.
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.
Officials have said that it is the opinion of the Missouri Municipal League (MML) that an elected official can be given a raise anytime before an election is certified. Rost added that he has no say in elected officials’ salaries.