On second thought, mayor, city clerk get pay raises

Previously failed effort brought to special meeting

Published: Friday, Oct. 26, 2012 11:08 a.m. CDT

In a special meeting requested by three Morris aldermen, the city council approved pay increases for the mayor and city clerk.

The approval comes after the resolution for the increases failed earlier this month when the council only had five members present.

"I'd like to talk about the salaries again," Alderman Bill Martin said. "Duane (Wolfe), Julian (Houston) and I agreed we wanted more members of the council for this issue."

The only alderman unable to attend the special meeting Thursday afternoon was Alderman Randy Larson, who had to work. Previously, Aldermen Drew Muffler and Don Hansen voted against the salary increases. Aldermen Barry Aldrich, Larson and Wolfe were absent from the last meeting. Although it was in favor 3 to 2 last time, the vote needed a super-majority.

"Seven of us able to vote on this is better than five of us," Martin said.

At Thursday's meeting, the salaries were approved 5 to 2 with Muffler and Hansen voting no again.

Martin said he believed both the mayor and city clerk positions deserved a raise because they are full-time positions.

The salary increases were slightly lower than what was proposed previously, which ends up being just under a 3-percent raise. The finance committee has maintained they went with 3 percent to be even with the raises the rest of the non-union employees received.

"Also, I'd like to point out there are several people the mayor is in charge of that make more money than him," said Martin, adding that this is not typical in most fields and maybe is something that should be considered in the future.

Hansen argued this wasn't true in all jobs, and the economy needs to be considered.

The city clerk's position will now get $72,000 (previously $72,100) for the fiscal year starting May 1, 2013; $74,100 (previously $74,275) for the fiscal year starting May 1, 2014; $76,200 (previously $76,500) for the next year; and $78,400 (previously $79,000) for the fiscal year starting May 1, 2016.

The mayor's position will get $82,800 (previously $83,000) for the fiscal year starting May 1, 2013; $85,100 (previously $85,500) for fiscal year starting May 1, 2014; $87,500 (previously $88,000) for the next year; and $90,000 (previously) $90,750 for the fiscal year commencing May 1, 2016, and running through April 30, 2017, "and each fiscal year thereafter."

Alderman Hansen motioned to change the raises to 2 percent, but he never received a second from the rest of the council.

Aldermen Martin and Houston both said the city is in good financial shape to give the raises now.

"If the United States was in as good of shape as Morris is right now, I wouldn't worry about a thing," Houston said.

Alderman Muffler said he voted no again for the same reasons as before. He doesn't feel right giving raises when people in the city are suffering, and when the aldermen took a pay cut.

"Have you been on the east side lately and seen the for sale signs," Muffler said. "I'm just saying we're not in as good of shape as you say we're going to be."

'LOCKED OUT'

After the one action item was completed, Hansen asked if the aldermen were still going to be "locked out" of the administration side of the building.

He said if City Clerk John Enger was going to continue to do this, he requested that the statute books be put in another part of the building.

"My no vote on the raises got me kicked out of a place I do my business (as alderman)," he said.

Prior to his no vote, he said after the meeting that he had access to the administration office to get his mail, make copies of needed material and access the state statute books. But the day after his vote, he was not allowed in, and Enger had to be called to assist him.

"I can't get past the same desk people pay their water bills at," he said after the meeting. "It seems like an alderman should be granted some courtesy so they can do their job more efficiently."

After the meeting, Enger said Hansen and all the aldermen will be able to access anything they need, but he is not comfortable with Hansen in his office.

"I just don't feel comfortable with him in the office. We can get his mail and make copies," said Enger, adding that he never saw Hansen access the state statute books before.

"This is the public's office and I'm just a caretaker," he said. "If the next city clerk wants to change policies up for alderman (they can.)"

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