Avon City Council members compromise on lower raise

By NICOLE HENNESSY

AVON – When Avon City Council members get a $1,200 raise in 2020, it’ll be a decade since the last raise.

Members passed the measure Monday after months of discussion, which continued all the way up to the vote.

A flat rate of $2,500 had been offered up by some finance committee members as a compromise for those uncomfortable with the originally-proposed 22 percent increase, which would have brought council members’ annual salaries to $15,250 from the current $12,500. The council president’s salary would increase from $15,500 to $18,500.

With the $2,500 raise, members’ salaries would increase to $15,000 and council president’s to $18,000 — not too far off from the 22 percent proposal.

For most council members, this figure was still too high.

Council President Craig Witherspoon said he believes council deserves a raise after 10 years, but that $2,500 is just too much.

Councilman Brian Fischer jumped in with the $1,200 proposal. A “modest increase,” he said, Councilwoman Mary Berges agreeing, reasoning that the raise would amount to an extra $100 a month.

The last raise council saw was in 2010, before which members were earning $10,000 and the president $13,000. That length of time since the last raise (and Avon’s rapid growth) is what prompted the discussion among finance committee members Councilmen Dennis McBride and Bob Butkowski.

Both councilmen continued to defend a higher raise (or any raise at all) Monday, citing the amount of work that is involved in sitting on council and the raises typical for other city employees.

Councilwoman Tammy Holtzmeier, also on the finance committee, remained firmly against the raise, stating that council members are compensated fairly for part-time work. In fact, she was the only member who voted “no.”

Avon council members are currently the highest paid in the area. Avon Lake City Council voted to give its members a $2,000 annual raise effective January 2016, bringing members’ salaries to $12,000 and the council president’s salary to $14,000.

In neighboring Westlake, a 2016 ordinance put automatic pay increases in place over the next several years. By 2020, council members will be making $16,320 and the council president will be pulling in $24,480 annually.

After the 22 percent raise was initially shot down, McBride began considering an incremental increase system similar to Westlake’s, but this move did not gain much support this time around.

The issue was originally sent back from council to a June finance committee meeting that was ultimately cancelled. The details were then hashed out between members before the $2,500 raise was looked at. Some considered passing the measure by emergency on its first reading at a special meeting following the work session July 3, but it ultimately got pushed one more week to July 10.

“We do put in work,” McBride reminded his colleagues and the community, stating several times that he didn’t care what figure was decided upon, but that after 10 years a raise is in order.

All members of council will need to be re-elected before the raises take effect in 2020.

 


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