Council chairperson still gets pay hike
February 20, 2010
The Summit County Council was forced to recast a vote on Wednesday after a procedural miscue, an unusual scenario that led to two different outcomes on the delicate topic of County Council salaries.
The council should have held a public hearing before it voted 4-1 Feb. 10 to give its chairperson a raise of $5,800 per year. Summit County Councilwoman Sally Elliott voted against the proposal.
"I opposed it from the beginning," Elliott said in an interview Wednesday. "I’m kind of old fashioned. I think public service is an honor."
Councilman David Ure changed his mind after a public hearing Wednesday and also voted against the 20-percent pay hike for the chair. But the County Council overall voted 3-2 to approve the raise this week. Elliott and Ure voted against the measure.
Being chairperson requires more work than serving in other council seats. Supporters said a salary increase was appropriate. Councilpersons work part time and are paid about $29,000 per year. They receive retirement benefits from the county but their compensation package does not include health insurance.
The pay hike means Summit County Council Chairwoman Claudia McMullin will receive an additional $5,800 in 2010. Councilman John Hanrahan will also receive $5,800 for chairing the County Council last year.
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At the public hearing, North Summit resident Sue Follett asked the Summit County Council to vote against the pay increase.
"I am extremely astonished and disappointed that the council is considering this, especially in today’s economy," Follett said. Follett is a former Summit County clerk.
She reminded councilpersons that four county employees were laid off last year.
"I ask you not to raise the salary of the chair," Follett said.
But Park City resident Myles Rademan said the chairperson deserves a raise.
"We should pay our pubic officials what it costs them in time and effort to do that kind of work," Rademan said at the public hearing. "You’re running a large public corporation and you should be compensated."
The annual budget for Summit County is about $45 million, Rademan stressed.
"It’s so much work and you just get a lot of grief, and you don’t get very much pay," Rademan said.
But the position of chair should rotate each year so councilpersons share in the responsibilities, Elliott said.
"We need to be realistic and cautious and careful in this economy," Elliott said. "It’s a tough year for raising salaries."
Still, Summit County Councilman John Hanrahan said councilpersons likely voted to set their salaries too low in 2009. The council chairperson conducts meetings and helps arrange the agendas.
"Clearly, there is more work involved," Hanrahan said.
McMullin also said the salary for a councilperson is not high enough.
"There does come a time when with the amount of work you just wonder why you are doing it," McMullin said.
A low salary may deter some people from running for office, she said.
"If you pay so little, you are only going to get the independently wealthy and the retired," McMullin said.