City officials Monday agreed to nearly double the pay of aldermen that better align with the salaries of elected officials in other municipalities.
Personnel, finance and public works committee members recommended that aldermen approve an ordinance that will increase the annual pay of aldermen from $2,000 to $3,900.
If approved, the ordinance would impact aldermen who are elected in April 2013.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.
“You really aren’t voting for yourself, but for who is running and wins in April,” said City Administrator Russell Rost.
He added 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.
Committee members Dale Schmuke, David Pope, Karen Erwin and James Albrecht voted in favor of the recommendation. Alderman Vicki Jo Hooper voted against the salary increase recommendation. T
he last pay increase for aldermen was in 1987.
“This is something the board has struggled with in the past,” said Schmuke.
Some officials have noted that an increased salary may attract a qualified candidate who may not run otherwise.
“I certainly hope they don’t run for money, but to make things right for the city,” said Erwin.
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 has said 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.
Rost added that the goal this year is to vote on the increases before filing for office opens in December.
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.
The committee will wait to address a pay increase for the mayor’s position. Mayor Mike Livengood’s term will end in 2015.
Officials have said that it is the opinion of the MML that an elected official can be given a raise anytime before an election is certified.