Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Romulus council votes to accept 2% salary hike

Despite the strong objections of the longest serving city council member, elected officials in Romulus will receive a 2-percent pay raise.
During the Jan. 6 regular meeting, Councilman William Wadsworth asked to speak regarding the recommendation of the Romulus Compensation Board, which is a volunteer group that meets every two years to recommend salary changes for elected officials. Wadsworth said that he was concerned to learn that other members of the council had requested a meeting with the compensation board to suggest a $1,000 bonus in addition to the 2-percent increase for the council members.

“There is no provision in our charter and no ordinance to allow such an appeal to the decision of the board,” Wadsworth said. “We don't negotiate with the board.”
“We made city workers pay more for health care last year, we asked taxpayers for a public safety millage. The library came to us and asked for $1,000 and we said no,” he said.
Wadsworth said that he, Mayor LeRoy Burcroff, Councilwoman Kathleen Abdo and other elected officials currently return a percentage of their pay to the city and have done so for several years.
The recommendation from the members of the compensation board before the council for approval was the 2-percent raise. While the $1,000 bonus was not in the motion presented to the council, it was a matter of discussion among the council members.  According to that discussion, the second meeting with the compensation board was requested by Mayor Pro Tem John Barden and was attended by Councilwoman Eva Webb. Webb disagreed with some of the minutes of that meeting.
“I do not need one dime from the city,” she said. “I did not request $1,000 each year plus 2 percent,” she said. “You are not going to dump this in my lap. I was representing five council members based on information I received from the mayor pro tem,” she said.
Barden, who was absent from the meeting, confirmed in a later interview that he had, in fact, requested the second compensation board meeting, “because certain council people told me they felt uninformed about what was going on. I decided to ask the director of the commission to have another meeting so that anyone who wanted to go for informational purposes could attend,” Barden said. He did not attend that requested second meeting.
Carol Bales, chairman of the compensation board, confirmed that the recommendation did not include the  $1,000 bonus.
“I feel the commission looked totally fairly, squarely at the situation and I think we were more than fair with the recommendation for 2 percent,” she said. That amount is estimated to be $16.40 per month for each councilperson and will cost an additional $198 per year, per councilperson. Council members currently are paid $9,900 per year.
Councilmember Tina Talley said that she was surprised that she was getting paid at all and that she felt her council service was important to being part of the community.
“I ran for council because I wanted to do it. I was shocked to find out I would get something for it. It's a bonus to get money for doing something I enjoy doing,” she said.
According to the city charter, a majority of the council members must vote to reject the recommendation of the compensation board or it becomes effective.
Wadsworth made a motion to reject the recommendation, and council members Abdo, Wadsworth and Webb voted yes on rejecting the raise. Council members Celeste Roscoe, Talley and Virginia Williams voted no, thereby accepting the recommended 2-percent raise which will become effective this month and again in January of 2021.