By Sallie James
City Council members who have waited years to get a raise finally got the green light on Aug. 30: A charter change establishing the raises squeaked through with 50.4 percent of the vote.
Voters resoundingly approved a second charter change — it won 69.1 percent of the votes — requiring council vacancies be filled by special election.
Council member Robert Weinroth proposed the salary increase.
He said higher salaries would make it easier for people to serve in a position that is very time-consuming and might increase the pool of willing candidates.
The proposed charter change, which won 4,826 yes votes to 4,753 no votes, established a $38,000 annual salary for the mayor, up from $9,000, and a $28,000 annual salary for council members, up from $7,200.
The pay hikes take effect in October 2017.
Council member Scott Singer proposed the charter change that addressed how council vacancies were to be filled, saying voters needed the ability to choose someone for an open council seat rather than watch an appointed member serve until the next regularly-scheduled election.
Singer initially introduced the charter change in May, but it went through several revisions before it was approved for placement on the Aug. 30 primary election ballot.
Residents who supported the measure called it a “no brainer,” saying the city needed a more democratic process in place.
The ballot question received 6,546 yes votes to 2,925 no votes.
Residents who favored the salary increases agreed with Weinroth that higher pay is essential to attract quality candidates to a job that requires much time and research.
Previous attempts in 2004 and 2006 to increase council salaries both failed.