JAMESTOWN – Members of the Jamestown City Council won’t be seeing an increase in salary at the start of the New Year.
Monday night the city’s finance committee settled on a recommendation that no salary increase be imposed when the new council is sworn in in January. The committee has yet to make a recommendation on an increase to the mayor’s salary.
Last year the city’s salary review commission came forward with a recommendation that the council’s salary be increased from $5,000 to $6,000. The salary has remained unchanged since 1984.
Finance committee chairman Tony Dolce said that his committee didn’t feel an increase was warranted, considering no one serves on the city council for the pay and also because it appears 2016 will be another tough budget year.
“Even though the council salary hasn’t been raised in over 30 years, I think there is a definite distinction between someone who is a part-time – basically a ‘paid volunteer’ and someone who is doing this for community service, and a full time city employee,” Dolce said. “So it’s kind of hard to lump that in with someone who works, as a career, full time, as a police officer, or a fireman, or some other city worker.”
At one point during the discussion, Councilman Alphonso Pagan asked why pay the city council members anything to begin with, if money is not the issue. Council President Greg Rabb explained that while no one is doing it for the salary, a small payment does help to encourage new candidates to come forward, as well as provide some contribution for the work that is put forward.
Jamestown Mayor Sam Teresi echoed that sentiment, saying he feels being a city council member is undervalued and under-appreciated by many of the constitutions.
“People need to understand it comes with a lot of responsibility and there’s very little glory in the job,” Teresi said. “It’s not a stepping stone for people who are using it to further a career in public service. Nobody is getting rich off of the salary and in some cases, it’s a small stipend for the troubles that you have to deal with. There have been council members that have lost customers, lost accounts, lost friends, and lost family members as they’re hearing, basically, as volunteers and trying to serve their community.”
As for the mayor’s salary, Dolce said the finance committee will have a further discussion on that matter in the future. The salary review commission has recommended that the mayor se an $18,000 salary increase over a four year period, going from the present rate of $72,000 to $90,000 in 2019. The last raise for the position was in 2008 and currently, the mayor makes less than 30 percent of the city’s workforce.