SALISBURY — Every four years a Salary Review Committee examines the salaries of the Mayor and City Council in Salisbury, and this year it recommended a 12-percent salary increase for city elected officials to catch up to cost of living.
Many members of the council were uncomfortable with how large the number was, however, and voted to re-address the topic at a later date when salary raises for general employees are also on the table.
“I can’t vote for an increase for myself if we’re not doing the same for our employees,” said Councilwoman Laura Mitchell.
Councilwoman Shanie Shields agreed, referring to the position of council member as basically a “paid volunteer” job in her opinion.
It should be noted that any elected official salary increase that the council might approve would not go into effect until 2015.
Council Vice President Debbie Campbell told Salary Review Committee Chair Lauren Hill that a 12-percent bump seemed “way too high.”
“We’re not seeing any of our taxpayers, who are the ones who are paying our salaries, having that kind of an increase,” Campbell
Twelve percent all at once does sound excessive, agreed Hill. However, she pointed out that elected officials in the city have not seen a cost of living increase since 2007 and would not see one until 2015 at the earliest, an eight-year gap.
“Twelve percent, it does sound like a lot, but it does represent the adjusted cost of living,” Hill said.
In addition, Hill said that her committee also discussed whether general city employees should receive a raise this year.
“The committee also very much felt that the City Council needs to consider at some point, giving the city employees a bump in salary since they only had a 2 percent bump, which happened in 2009,” she added.
Hill advised the council to consider using a “more regimented calendar” when plotting salary increases instead of only addressing it every several years.
“We looked at where it stands now, the way the economy is and what the cost of living increase is,” Hill told the council.
The council agreed to have City Attorney Mark Tilghman examine the charter in regards to the timetable on reviews. Campbell also suggested that, in the future, review committees look at things like health insurance and other benefits when considering a recommendation for a salary increase.