Sunday, August 21, 2011

Council approves incentive pay on 3-2 vote

By Dick Yarmy and Al Cross
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

After debating the issue a second time, the Midway City Council voted last Monday night to give escalating incentive pay to council members, the mayor, the city clerk and the assistant clerk for receiving 15 hours of annual training on topics related to their official responsibilities.

The vote was 3-2, with Council Members Aaron Hamilton, Doris Leigh and Sharon Turner supporting the proposal by Mayor Tom Bozarth, and Becky Moore and Dan Roller opposing it. Member Joy Arnold, who had been skeptical of the plan at the Aug. 1 meeting, was absent due to a death in her family. If there had been a tie vote, Bozarth could have voted to break the tie.

To support his initiative, Bozarth introduced James Chaney, chief governmental affairs officer of the Kentucky League of Cities. KLC will offer the training under a bill that it and state Rep. Carl Rollins of Midway got passed in the 2011 General Assembly. Cheney mentioned Rollins’ dismay that 50 to 60 percent of the 2,600 city officials in Kentucky receive no training.

Moore said the bill appeared self-serving for KLC, but Chaney said cities can award incentives for training from other accredited sources. The bill does not mention accreditation or providers.

Moore, who preceded Bozarth as mayor, asked, “If we’re going to incentivize training of city clerks, why not water plant workers and others?” She suggested the vote be delayed while a “policy statement” is drafted to ensure future leaders administer the program consistently, but made no motion to that effect.

Roller’s objections were budget-focused. He said an annual outlay of $18,000 (which would be the total in the fourth year if all eligible officials took the training each year) was excessive, and noted that Bozarth had not taken the plan to the council's Ordinance and Policy Committee. Roller read a prepared statement for the record, and Moore asked that her request for a policy statement be included in the minutes of the meeting. For a PDF of Roller's statement, click here.

In other action, the council approved tax rates for the coming year, as described at the Aug. 1 meeting. After the meeting, just as they did two weeks earlier, Bozarth and his allies walked down East Main Street, while Roller and Moore walked up South Winter Street.

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