Salary Board Calls For Pay Increase For Mayor, Council

The city’s Salary Review Commission discusses recommending a salary increase for members of the council and the mayor during a meeting Wednesday. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

A recommendation has been made on a possible pay increase for elected officials in the city of Jamestown.

On Wednesday, the city’s Salary Review Commission meet for the second time this year to discuss a possible pay increase for the mayor and members of the council.

Every four years, according to the city charter, a salary review commission can be created to examine how much pay elected officials in the city receive. Also according to the city charter, the council president and mayor each nominate three members for the commission. The people nominated earlier this year by Marie Carrubba, council president, included Tyler Case, Margaret Cornell and Catherine Way. The three members nominated by Sam Teresi, city mayor, included Howard Brook, Dr. Lillian Ney and the Rev. Chloe Smith.

The commission approved a motion to increase the salary of the mayor from $72,000 to $85,000. The group also recommended a salary increase for eight of the nine members of the council to be $10,000 a year while the groups president would receive $11,000. The current pay for eight members of the council is $5,000 a year while the president receives $6,000.

At the first meeting of the group in October, the commission had asked Todd Thomas, city clerk and administrate services director, and Joseph Bellitto, city comptroller, to calculate how much the salary would be for the mayor and members of the council if they had received a 2 percent cost of living increase each year since the last pay increase for the positions. The council last received a hike in pay in 1984 and the mayor last received a jump in compensation in 2008.

Thomas said if the 2 percent cost of living increase had been made to the mayor’s salary each year since 2008, the position would receive around $89,500 a year. He said if members of the council had been receiving an average increase in pay of 2 percent since 1984, the position’s salary would be around $10,000 a year.

Marilyn Fiore-Lehman, city corporation counsel, was asked if the employees in the city’s bargaining units receive on average a 2 percent pay increase annually. Fiore-Lehman said the unions don’t always receive a pay increase each year, but would say that on average they’ve receive around a 2 percent increase a year. She also said union employees also receive step salary increases, which most city employees qualify to receive. She added the mayor and members of the council are not eligible to receive step pay increases.

Cornell, salary review commission member, said it is about equality for members of the council and the mayor, who should also be receiving pay increases if the other employees in city government can receive salary raises.

“It is the right thing to do. The mayor and city council should receive a raise,” she said.

Cornell said the commission should also have a methodology to explain why they believe the salary they recommend for the elected positions should be applied. Way said she believes the 2 percent cost of living increase is the methodology that explains their recommendation. Way then made a motion to recommend an increase for the mayor’s salary to be $85,000, eight members of the council to be $10,000 and the president to be $11,000.

The five members of the commission present, with Case being absent, approved the recommendation. The commission said they will present their recommendation to the council at a later date to explain how they reached their conclusion.

Once the recommendation is presented to the council, the group can choose to accept it, change it or do nothing. The last time a salary review commission was formed was four years ago. In December 2014, the salary review commission recommended a salary increase for the mayor from $72,000 to $80,000 starting in 2016, with the salary increasing an additional $5,000 in 2017 and by $2,500 in 2018 and 2019, to a total of $90,000.

In 2014, the commission recommended council members’ salaries increasing from $5,000 a year to $6,000 in 2016, with the president’s salary increasing from $6,000 to $7,000. Also, for the first time, committee chairs would get an additional $500 bonus.

The council during several meetings in 2014 and 2015 discussed the recommendations by the salary review commission, but didn’t act on any of the proposals.

The salary of an elected officials cannot be adjusted during a current term, which is why any change recommended by the commission needs to be approved by the council in 2019 to go into effect in 2020.