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Elgin mayor proposes raise for town's elected leaders

Posted: November 24, 2010 2:53 p.m.
Updated: November 26, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Elgin Town Council approached the subject of salaries for the mayor and council members during recent meetings, and it was on the Nov. 2 agenda for further consideration.

That discussion, however, was tabled for a later date.

It began in October with Elgin Mayor Pete James explaining it was the only opportunity council would have to increase pay for the next four years.

“The raises cannot be implemented and voted on under the term of the person benefiting,” James pointed out. If council decides to approve an increase, it would go into effect after the election for mayor and two council seats in February.

During the October meeting, council passed the first reading of an ordinance to raise the mayor’s salary to $10,000 with an amendment to leave council members’ salaries the same. James, Councilman Jerry Jeffers and Mayor Pro Tem Brad Hanley were in favor. Councilmen Larry Risvold and Roger Ross opposed.

James proposed raising the mayor’s salary from $2,400 to $10,000 a year as well as increasing council members’ salaries from $720 to $900 a year.

“I question if that is an appropriate amount,” Risvold said. “Just doing the math, that’s a 416 percent increase for the mayor.”

James explained that the mayor of Camden receives $10,000 as well as has a city manager.

“Yes,” Risvold said, “but Camden has a much bigger budget than we do.”

Hanley agreed with James that the mayor should be compensated more.

“It’s basically a volunteer position as it is right now,” Hanley said. “It takes many hours and the mayor needs to be spending more time with town business.”

Hanley said he understood the concern for the state of the economy.

“But our budget has held steady for the past few years,” he said. “I see us being on the brink of explosive growth and we’ll need to deal with the issues that come along with it … I don’t see this as a waste of money. I think it would be fair compensating the person who’s in that position for their time.”

Hanley said he would be comfortable with leaving the salaries of council members at $720 a year.

Cliff Emmons of Elgin spoke out against the raises during public comment in the November meeting.

“I’m not big on this raise for town council members or the mayor,” he said. “And if it is brought back up, the public will be against it.”

In other business Nov. 2, council approved the second reading of an ordinance to allow Elgin voters to decide during the election in February if they want to allow local businesses to sell alcohol on Sundays.

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