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New London mulls raises for officials

The New London City Council chambers. File Photo

Finance Committee discusses increased pay for meetings

By Robert Cloud

Members of the city’s Finance Committee discussed increasing pay for elected officials at a Sept. 6 meeting.

Prior to the meeting, City Administrator Chad Hoerth issued a report on what members of city council and the mayor of area cities were making.

Hoerth reported that New London, with a population of 7,364, paid its council members a base salary of $3,000 annually, plus $30 for each meeting they attend. The committee chair is paid $35 for attending a meeting.

He noted that a council member who attends six meetings per month and chairs a committee has the potential to earn up to $5,220 annually.

The city of Waupaca, with a population of 6,278, pays council members a salary of $4,850 annually with no additional payment for attending meetings, according to Hoerth’s report.

Clintonville has 4,589 residents and pays its alderpersons $4,500 per year plus $25 per meeting up to 30 meetings.

New London’s mayor is paid $6,400 annually plus the same per meeting stipend as the council members and committee chairs.

Waupaca’s mayor is paid $12,250 annually, while Clintonville’s mayor is paid $4,500 per year plus $25 per meeting.

Pay set by ordinance

To increase the pay of elected officials, New London must amend Chapter 2 of its Municipal Code. The pay is set by ordinance, which was last amended in May 2018.

Ald. Robert Besaw, who chairs Parks and Rec, said when compensation for elected officials was last modified, then Mayor Gary Henke wanted to cut salaries but increase meeting pay to encourage more attendance at meetings.

Alderpersons are paid for attending committee meetings whether or not they are members.

Ald. John Faucher noted that the previous city attorney discouraged nonmembers from attending committee meetings.

“Just about every alderperson makes about every meeting,” Mayor Mark Herter said.

City Finance Director Judy Radke said the city budgets for all council members attending all committee meetings.

“The chair gets $5 more than just a committee member. I thought that was kind of a joke when I got my first paycheck when I was chair of Economic Development,” said Ald. Tim Roberts. “I thought really? You put in so much work to the meeting, I think that’s kind of low.”

“I don’t think anybody takes these jobs for the money,” Besaw said.

Hoerth said committee chairs often come into city hall prior to a meeting and discuss the agenda with staff. They are not compensated for that extra time.

Ald. BaLynda Croy asked how much extra time do committee chairs work in a month.

“If they’re putting in an hour per meeting on average, then $5 per meeting is certainly not enough,” Croy said.

Mayor Mark Herter said it would be fair if a committee chair received an additional $25 per meeting.

Roberts said he wanted to see a $1,000 increase in annual salaries for council members and a $2,000 pay raise for the mayor.

He also advocated for a $40 per meeting payment to committee members and $60 for the committee chair.

“On top of that, I’d like to see a yearly percentage raise to align with what staff is getting,” Roberts said. “If staff gets a 2% raise, council would get a 2% raise.”

“If somebody thinks that’s too much money, they can always donate it back or pitch in to a cause,” Faucher said.

City staff will provide the committee with cost estimates for the proposed increases, as well as information about when they would take effect.

Poll workers

Finance voted to give poll workers a raise. They currently earn $147 during each election, while the chief inspectors earn $175, They are also paid $10 an hour for training.

Hoerth’s report noted that a typical election day lasts about 14 hours so the poll workers are earning approximately $10.50 per hour while chief inspectors earn $12.50 per hour.

Croy noted that in addition to having to work long days, poll workers are also dealing with negative public opinion and people who smear their integrity.

Finance voted to increase their pay by $12 and $15 per election.

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