Councilman David Thomas discusses potential pay raises for the mayor and council members at the Thursday, Jan. 16 council meeting. Also pictured is councilwoman Pam Bucklew.

City council pumps brakes on potential raises for mayor, council members

BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon City Council won’t pursue giving council members or the mayor salary increases – at least not now.

At council’s Thursday meeting, finance and administrative director Amberle Jenkins said she and two other committee members had been tasked with studying if and how council could increase the salaries of the mayor and council members. However, after several discussions, the committee had decided to hold off for the time being.

“Last meeting had tasked a committee to research and come back with a recommendation for possible pay increases for future councils salaries, and we’ve talked separately – myself, councilwoman Albaugh and councilman Thomas – and we believe this task should be undertaken later and perhaps in a different form,” Jenkins said.

“Council may want to discuss a system in which the citizens are going to participate in this recommendation or maybe some sort of automated process,” Jenkins added, “so, at this time, we’re going to cancel our meetings and leave it at that.”

Councilwoman Mary Albaugh said she’d been absent when she was appointed to the committee, along with Jenkins and councilman David Thomas, who originally raised the issue of considering raises.

“I came back and went in to talk to Amby and I said, ‘I’m not really happy about giving my fellow council members a raise – that doesn’t sound right,’ and she’d already done some homework,” Albaugh said. “I wasn’t for it. We can find a better way to do that.”

Thomas said following conversations with Jenkins and Albaugh, he’d decided now is not a prime time to institute raises.

“Timing (due to it being an election year) is one of the issues, and one of the other real issues you have looking at potential increases for the mayor, recorder and council members, is, it’s not good to have elected officials determine what their future compensation’s going to be,” he said.

Thomas has noted that in other instances, elected officials are responsible for setting their salaries; for example, the West Virginia Legislature is the entity that establishes county commissioners’ salaries.

“CJ, I think, made an interesting comment last council meeting, that most people who run for positions like we’re sitting in today, don’t do it for the level of compensation, they do it for the community,” Thomas added.

In other salary-related news, council approved on second and final reading Ordinance 440, which bumps up the next city recorder’s pay from just $9,000 a year to $15,600 annually. Thomas made a motion to approve it, which was seconded by Albaugh before passing. City recorder Randy Sanders abstained from the vote due to a conflict of interest since he’s filed to run for the unexpired term of recorder in the May 2020 election.

City recorders are required to attend and keep the minutes of every regular and special council meeting, as well as all city board meetings.

Mayor David McCauley noted the new salary rate won’t be effectuated until after the May 12, 2020 primary election results are certified.

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