Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mayor and council elected next year would get much more pay than current ones, under proposal to council

A committee of the Midway City Council plans to recommend that the council raise the salaries of the mayor and council elected in November 2018 to $1,000 and $400 a month, respectively, from the current $100 and $50 a month.

The Finance, Ordinance and Policy Committee decided Monday morning to make the proposal. It would raise the pay of current officials only if they were re-elected next year.

"It won't affect anybody's salary that's on there now," said Council Member Bruce Southworth, a member of the committee.

State Rep. James Kay swore in the current council in January.
Southworth and the committee chair, Council Member Sara Hicks, said in telephone interviews that the salaries had not been raised in 30 years or more, and an increase is overdue.

Hicks said she had discussed the idea with some citizens before the meeting. "People said they thought a raise was warranted, so I'm expecting that the community will support it."

She said council members long ago tended to be people "who were business owners or professionals who worked downtown," but that is less true today. "We would like to expand it to younger people who might have fresher ideas, so we have more representation for all age groups."

Southworth said the increase would be "a huge jump" but the salaries are so low, "There's some argument that you have to be rich or retired to be on the council in Midway."

Mayors and council members have gotten busier in recent years, especially because of developments at Midway Station, said Southworth, who ran Midway's wastewater treatment plant for 11 years and was city administrator and public works director for Versailles before retiring in 2011. 

"With all the development that's going on in the industrial park, there's going to be more and more work added to it," he said. Hicks agreed.

"The city is probably more active than many cities of our population size," she said. "One of our rationales was the development of the industrial park. We think there's going to be an ever-increasing amount of work for the mayor and the city council over the next 10 years."

Hicks said the committee looked at salaries of cities of comparable size and chose to propose salaries that would be "a little bit above the average." Midway's 2010 census population was 1,647.

Joseph Coleman, research director for the Kentucky League of Cities, said in an email to the Midway Messenger that in "cities of similar size to Midway (1,000-2,999 population), the median annual pay for mayors was $6,600 and for legislative body members was $1,200 in Fiscal Year 2016," which ended last June 30.

Under the proposed pay scale, the Midway mayor would make $12,000 a year and council members would make $4,800 a year, starting in January 2019.

Southworth estimated that council members spend an average of 10 to 15 hours a week on city business and mayors spend about 25 hours a week.

The other member of the committee making the recommendation, Council Member Steve Simoff, didn't return an email seeking comment. The other City Council members are Kaye Nita Gallagher, John McDaniel and Libby Warfield. The mayor is Grayson Vandegrift.

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