July 23, 2016

Partly sunny

No pay increases for members of Medina City Council

Medina City Council on Monday ruled out any salary increases for its members next year — a decision that will mean fewer retirement benefits for them because of changes in the state pension system.

Councilman Paul Rose, at-large, said foregoing a pay raise was fine with him.

“We’re here to serve the people, we’re not here to make money,” he said.

Councilman Mark Kolesar, 3rd Ward, agreed.

“We run for this position because we’re here to serve the community,” he said. “I don’t feel comfortable raising Council’s pay.”

Council members serve part time and are paid $6,000 a year. The Council president is paid $9,000.

Because of changes to the state pension rules, Council members will receive fewer benefits if they do not raise their salaries. That’s because the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System no longer will provide credit toward retirement health care for employees paid less than $1,000 a month.

They also will get less time-in-service credit toward retirement.

City Finance Director Keith Dirham said the state requires that salaries be set for elected officials before the candidate filing deadline, which is Aug. 7.

Council members cannot vote on changing their own salaries, so any increase for 2014 must be approved this year for the three Council seats on the November ballot.

Council still has time to consider raising the salaries of mayor and of the finance director, who also will be up for election in November.

Mayor Dennis Hanwell earns a salary of $73,820.50 and Dirham’s salary is $82,341.22.

Rose suggested that Council could consider setting performance goals for the mayor and finance director, with the possibility of a merit raise each year, similar to executive pay in the private sector.

“We do want to attract and keep qualified personnel here,” he said.

An example of a goal for the mayor could be attracting three new businesses a year, he said.

Other Council members said they weren’t sure about that idea, saying voters evaluate the mayor’s and finance director’s performances every four years.

“If these elected officials aren’t doing their jobs, then it’s the voter who decides,” Kolesar said.

Council agreed to continue discussing the mayor and finance director salaries at their next Finance Committee meeting.

In other action

Also Monday, Council approved a 3 percent increase in city water rates each year for the next five years.

Kolesar said Council will review the increases each year.

“If there’s not a need for 3 percent, we’re not going to increase it,” Kolesar said.

Council President John Coyne cast the only vote against the rate increase, saying he opposed the five-year plan.

“I would rather wait on a year-to-year basis,” he said.

Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or kfischer@medina-gazette.com.