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Big differences in council raise ideas

By Staff | Jun 9, 2008

Rob Hammond

Despite the fact that it’s mid-year and most city salaries have long been settled, there are some increases that triggered hot debate at last Monday’s Blue Earth City Council meeting.

The biggest dispute came on the topic of possible raises for city council members.

Councilman Glenn Gaylord repeated his idea from a previous meeting that the council reinstate an $80 per month mileage/gas stipend.

According to Gaylord, the stipend was cut when the state reduced local government aid.

Mayor Rob Hammond said he had done some figuring since the previous meeting and that the $80 would be a 32 percent increase in his salary (currently at $2,864 annually) and a 35 percent increase for council members (currently at $2,546 annually).

Hammond added he felt the council should get the same 2.5 percent increase the average city employee received.

The mayor also questioned calling the increase a gas stipend.

“That much mileage in a town this size is fiction,” Hammond said.

Gaylord commented he didn’t care if the money was called ‘mileage’ or a ‘pay increase.’

“This is what we had before, we are just reinstating it,” he added.

City Administrator Ben Martig told the council a month ago that, if they wished to have a salary increase in 2009, it would need to be passed before July of this year.

Martig had also presented a chart of what other councils in towns the size of Blue Earth, get paid.

The mean average was $3,593 for mayors, and $3,059 for council members.

According to Martig, he included a three percent raise in the budget for council wages.

Hammond believes an $80 increase would put himself and council over the mean average. “You should also look at what we have saved the city in the past few years (because of removing the $80 gas stipend),” Gaylord said.

The council did not take any action at the meeting, but instructed that a resolution be prepared for the next meeting and that the amount be left out until that meeting.

Gaylord also brought up the pay increases for city employees that the council had passed at an earlier meeting. He questioned if all employees had actually gotten at least a 2.5 percent wage in-crease.

Martig had earlier reported that there were several employees who had not gotten the raise. He specifically named the library clerks, and said there were a couple secretarial positions as well.

The reason, Martig said, had to do with earlier increases that were made to get the pay scales in line.

Gaylord said it had been his understanding that all employees had at least a 2.5 percent hike, and that he would not have voted for the salary package had he known that.

“I just want the council to realize that is what we voted on,” Gaylord said. “I see a problem is some people get a huge raise and some get no raise.”

The final salary item the council discussed was the pay range for a new administrator. As suggested at the previous meeting, the council approved a range that starts at $52,705.80 up to a maximum of step six at $77,693.81.

Other business

In other business at Monday’s meeting, the city council:

– Accepted a letter of resignation from EDA President Lonnie Trasamar, due to health issues.

– Approved a revised plat map for the area around the new parking lot near the 14th Street ball fields. It includes city utility easements.

– Approved purchase of a new lawnmower/snowblower at the airport. The cost is $12,000 but 70 percent is covered by state and federal funds.