JAMESTOWN – The Jamestown Salary Review Commission has made a recommendation for salary adjustments for elected officials in the city.
On Wednesday morning the commission met for just over half an hour to discuss and vote on its recommendation for changes to the salaries of the office of mayor and all nine Jamestown city council seats. It was the second meeting of the commission, with the first taking place last month.
The current annual salary for the office of mayor is $72,000. The annual salary for the nine city council members is $5,000 – with the council president receiving an additional $1000 in pay.
The last time the office of mayor received a salary adjustment was in 2008, while the last time the city council received any salary adjustment was in 1984, more than 30 years ago.
After reviewing what the salary would be if it followed a trajectory of an annual 2 percent increase, the commission voted 5-0 to recommend an increase to the mayor’s annual salary to $85,000 and increasing the council’s annual salary to $10,000, with the council president still receiving an additional $1000. The total increase to the city spending would equal $58,000.
During the discussion, commissioner member Peg Cornell said the salary adjustments are overdue.
“When [this recommendation] is presented to the city council I think we have to talk about the question of equity, because that’s so important. There hasn’t been another employee working in the city of Jamestown that hasn’t received some increase in their salary and I think that’s very important to state, because this is about equity,” Cornell said.
Other commission members pointed out that even with the recommended increase the salary for the mayor’s position would still be in line with other communities of similar size across the state and what they pay their mayor and/or city manager. And the issue of attracting the best qualified candidates was brought up, with the commission agreeing that a higher salary will bring in a larger pool of potential candidates for the mayor’s office and city council in future years.
The recommendation will now be brought before the city council for its consideration. The council can either act on the recommendation as it is or adjust it. The council also has the option to not take any action at all, in which case the salary would remain unchanged.
If the council were to adjust the salaries, they wouldn’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2020 – following the 2019 elections that includes the mayoral race in addition to the nine council seats that will also be up for a vote.
The last time commission recommendations were brought forward was in 2014. At that time it suggested the council salary be bumped up to $6,000 per year. It also recommended the mayor’s salary increase to $90,000 over a four-year period. Once the recommendations were made, the council opted not to change the salaries due to ongoing financial challenges facing the city.
The salary review commission is created every four years in accordance with the city charter to review salaries for elected officials and bring forward a recommendation. Its members are selected by the Mayor and City Council president.
The six city residents serving on the 2018 commission are Cornell, Howard Brook, Tyler Case, Cornell, Dr. Lillian Ney, Rev. Chloe Smith, and Catherine Way. Case was the only commission member absent during Wednesday’s meeting and recommendation vote.