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Hancock County News

Pay increases approved for Greenfield city council members; money needs to be found in budget

Those representing the City of Greenfield on city council could be making a little extra money next year for their public service.  The town council recently discussed an increase to council member’s salaries during their 2020 budget hearings.

And, while a measure to increase the pay by $750 was approved by a 5-2 measure, there is still plenty of work left to be done before the increase becomes a reality.

According to Lori Elmore, clerk-treasurer for the city of Greenfield, the numbers for the increases approved were not included in the numbers council was given in their budget books, therefore, the money has not been appropriated.

“They also had several other requests, which were approved that night (at the budget hearing), which were not included in the numbers, but they also approved during the budget hearing. We are in the process of including those numbers to ensure we are able to fund them in 2020,” Elmore told Giant FM.

Currently, elected officials on the town council make $5,750 each. During the budget hearing, council members Keely Butrum and Jeff Lowder voted against the raise.

Councilman Mitch Pendlum brought up the idea of discussing a possible increase in pay at the end of the budget hearing after not seeing anything mentioned by Elmore or council president, Dan Riley.
“There is no money in the budget for a council raise and there was nothing down. I knew it had been a couple of years since we got an increase in pay, and I said I would like to discuss council pay. I never asked for a raise,” Pendlum told Giant FM.

Pendlum said in 2007, 2009, 2014, 2015 and 2016, council operated without an increase to their pay.

“In 2017, we got a $500 raise and in 2018, we got a $250 raise. This time we had a little discussion and that was it. Joe (Skvarenina) made the motion and Gary (McDaniel) made the second, and it went on through. The clerk-treasurer didn’t plan on anyone getting a raise. I suppose the money is there, but we will have to wait and see. It would be an increase of $28 more a pay period if it went through,” Pendlum said.

Councilman Riley, who is also the board president, said he believes the amount of time spent outside of city hall, as well as inside merits the raise.

“Council members and Board of Works members serve on several boards and committees with no additional compensation. Council members recently spent many hours on the budget. At the same time, many were working on the new zoning code and the new thoroughfare plans. Members also serve on historic boards, Riley Old Home Society Board, Greenfield Main Street, Riley Festival, HEDC and others. This is an addition to personal responsibilities to church, lodges and service clubs,” Riley said.

There has been some discussion amongst council members that raising the pay will draw “better candidates” for elected office. Riley and Pendlum offered varied perspectives.

Pendlum said in order to run for office, one has to have money and the pay increase could help candidates get their name out.

“The way I look at, when we have a primary election like the one we had in May, a candidate needs signs, door knockers, business cards, all kinds of stuff and if you don’t get paid something, you have to take it out of your own pocket. It costs money to run, and the council duty is shaped by the state law. If you don’t have a salary, it’ll make it harder for lower income residents to run and it broadens the council by offering the increase,” Pendlum said.

Riley, however, said he does not know if the pay plays a part in deciding to seek any elected office.
“I hope it doesn’t. I support compensating people for their time spent in civic duty, just as I believe an employee of private enterprise deserves compensation,” Riley told Giant FM. 

Elmore said the increase for the council and board of works members will be included in the salary ordinance, which will go before the council for first reading on Oct. 9 and then second reading and final approval on Oct. 23. Should the measure be approved, it will go into effect Dec. 14 for the 2020 fiscal year. 

“The decision will be up to them to amend when the ordinance is introduced in October, if they feel they do not want to accept the increase,” Elmore said.