Mayor gets substantial raise

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By Robin Bass

The mayor of Taylorsville stands to earn almost $200 more a month if city commissioners vote in favor of the salary raise during a special-called meeting today.

The commission unanimously approved a first reading last Tuesday that would increase the mayor’s annual salary by 26 percent, plus an additional 2.72 percent cost of living adjustment. The monthly pay rate, which would go into effect January 1, 2011, will climb from $643.02 to $832.03 – bringing the mayor’s annual compensation to $9,984.38.

Commissioner salaries are also expected to see a 2.72 percent cost of living adjustment in fiscal year 2011 – a raise equaling about $16/month.

Mayor Don Pay stressed that any pay increases are not necessarily for persons currently holding office. “It’s for the next administration,” he said.

Pay and current commissioners have until August 10 to file for re-election. At this time, none have publicly stated their intentions.

City Clerk Steve Biven said that ever since a 26 percent increase was approved for city commissioners in 2008, the mayor has been “taking a hit.”

“People see the mayor as a central point of contact,” said Biven. “He’s the one that gets all the calls to speak at events, present awards and meet with state officials. He’s the mayor 24 hours a day.”

The annual salaries of the city’s five commissioners increased from $5,716.75 to $7,200 beginning fiscal year 2009. The change resulted in commissioners earning about $43 less than the mayor each month.

Biven said commissioners have traditionally earned 74 percent of the mayor’s total salary and that this new adjustment would bring their pay back within that ratio. State law provides for a mayor’s compensation to be adjusted every four years and commissioners every two.

Other perks

In addition to their annual salaries, the mayor and commissioners are given a $450 monthly health care allowance. Reimbursable medical expenses include doctor’s visits, medicine and eyeglasses.

The commission voted to accept the monthly allowance during the spring of 2005 after learning that – while eligible – participating in the city’s health insurance plan would raise the premiums for all city workers. Former City Clerk Marcia Crowe attributed the potential rate increase to the ages and pre-existing conditions of some commissioners.

For several years, commission members were also eligible to collect $50 for each public meeting they attended, such as planning and zoning or the economic development authority.

In May 2008, the commission voted to increase commissioners pay by 26 percent in lieu of the $50 per meeting reimbursement.

Biven said commissioners likely earned less from the salary increase than they did claiming reimbursement for meetings. He also described the 26-percent figure as misleading when the amount actually earned by the mayor and commissioners is considered.

By comparison

The Spencer Magnet compiled a brief comparison of how much city officials are paid in towns of similar size and duties. The Kentucky cities of Jamestown and Livermore are relatively the same size as Taylorsville and both operate a separate water and sewer department.

The city of Livermore, located in McClean County 20 miles south of Owensboro,  has a population of 1,534. City Clerk Deanna Edmonds said Monday that the Livermore mayor earns $100 a month while the six city council members are each paid $50 a month. Edmonds said the city’s elected officials receive no health benefits or reimbursements, except the mayor is allowed two gasoline fill ups each month.

The Livermore mayor and council members oversee a $1.91 million budget which includes the city’s water, sewer and gas departments. Edmonds said that the city does collect an insurance premium tax, but the council voted against administering an occupational tax since the McLean County government was already collecting one.

Jamestown City Clerk Tyler McGowan said that his town’s mayor earns an annual salary of $7,600, while council members make $2,200 a year. City officials are offered health insurance, said McGowan, but only two currently participate. The city clerk could not provide the city’s budget figures at this time, but said that Livermore collects both an occupational tax and an insurance premium tax.

Jamestown is located in Russell County about one and a half hours south of Lexington.