Council asks for 20% pay hike beginning next term

BLYTHEWOOD – When council members are seated after the November elections, they will be receiving a pay increase if Mayor J. Michael Ross’ proposed pay increase for council members and mayor is voted into the budget for fiscal year 2019-20.

Ross suggested at the May 23 budget meeting that the mayor’s annual salary be increased from the current $9,000 to $12,000 and council members’ salaries be increased from $6,000 to $9,000.

“I will not get a dime of that money,” Ross joked. The town ordinance limits Blythewood elected officials to two terms, and Ross’ second term will end in November.

“For eight years the salaries of the governing body has been the same,” Ross said. “When I was elected, the mayor’s salary was $18,000 and council’s was $12,000. Our council voted to reduce that by 50 percent,” he said.

“When you think about everyone else making more money, no one does this job for money. I was going to kick around that we are in excellent financial condition and have money to spare,” Ross said.

Former town councilman Tom Utruska reminded Ross from the audience that it is the staff who does most of the work.

“They are the ones who should get the pay increase,” Utroska said, also reminding council of the insurance and retirement perks they also receive.

And Ross conceded that the town does not have fire, water and other departments that council and the mayor have to supervise and maintain like other towns.

When Ross brought the issue up again at the May 28 council meeting, Utroska suggested a 20 percent increase for both the mayor and council, increasing the mayor’s annual salary to $10,800 and council members’ to $7,200.

“I think that’s fair and shows we’re moving forward,” Ross said. Second and final reading of the budget will be held June 24.