WILMINGTON — Council members are considering the pay and compensation of two of Wilmington’s part-time elected officials – the city treasurer and the city auditor.
The drafted ordinance, if approved by council, would increase the salary of both from $10,500 to $12,000 annually. The ordinance would not change anyone’s benefits, but council did discuss those.
The increase would allow both to qualify for retirement under the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System. Other language in the bill, if approved, would automatically increase the contributions so both remain qualified for retirement benefits.
Council passed a first reading on the ordinance last Thursday and a second one at a special meeting Tuesday.
David Hollingsworth, the city auditor, said Wilmington pays him less than most similarly-sized cities pay their auditors. He stressed that he wouldn’t personally benefit from expanding the benefits of the job, but he could benefit from the $1,500 in increased pay.
“The position hasn’t received an increase in fifteen years,” Hollingsworth said. “My personal name is out there floating on millions of dollars’ worth of debt … that I, as an individual, technically am responsible for.”
Hollingsworth also said the position’s pay, even as a part-time position, doesn’t compete with the private sector and the city may have a hard time attracting candidates to eventually replace him.
“I’m not doing this forever,” he said. “This next term will be 32 years, but to attract somebody that wants to take on this responsibility. … I think in the past you’ve had people that had no accounting experience being the city auditor.”
Wilmington Law Director Brian Shidaker asked if council was considering why some part-time elected officials receive health insurance and others don’t.
Council member and finance committee chair Marian Miller said she was in favor of eliminating health insurance for all part-time, elected officials.
“It’s not fair that we would provide health insurance to part-time elected officials not our part-time, non-elected,” she said. “It’s kind of a double standard.”
Hollingsworth urged council to consider health insurance as another form of compensation to attract candidates to the position.
Council member Mark McKay recommended keeping the proposed automatic increases for the auditor and treasurer.
“If we saw need to increase these salaries dramatically because of some OPERS requirement, I guess we can address it at that point,” he said. “I don’t see an issue with it now.”
Jaehnig also believes all elected officials’ salaries and responsibilities should be reviewed as part of the budget process.
“Besides offering health insurance currently to certain elected officials, we’ve also then taken away from any opportunity from any retirement medical benefits from the majority of elected officials,” Jaehnig said. “If somebody puts in 10 years, or 15 years, or 20 years, that is more than a fair compensation.”
“Working towards having a medical benefit at the end is useful,” he continued.
Miller said the item could be discussed again at her next finance committee meeting and may modify the ordinance.
“City council is, I feel, under agreement that we’re not going to touch our salary,” she said. “But, in the interest of continuing to attract qualified candidates for auditor and treasurer, we feel it’s appropriate to bump up their salary to make them eligible for OPERS retirement.”
The proposed ordinance would keep the salaries of council and president of council at $3,885, the mayor at $20,900 and the law director at $27,500.
According to Shidaker, salary increases can’t take effect until those terms expire. The drafted ordinance complies with that.
Also in council chambers:
• Tuesday, council passed the second reading of an ordinance dedicating about three acres of land to an Airborne Connector Road project. The project aims build a road from Cuba Road to U.S. 68 directly in front of American Way, near Ahresty. Also in the resolution are a traffic signal at the proposed intersection with U.S. 68 and a railroad crossing signal with gates nearby.
Council member Marian Miller on Thursday complained that the ordinance doesn’t clearly show where city utilities are.
The city, according to the resolution, must extend water, sewer, electric, gas, cable and telephone utilities to both sides of the road.
Other council members sounded similar concerns Tuesday but all present voted for the second reading.
“We feel like council should have this information on the record,” said council member Loren Stuckert.
Stuckert also said there may also be costs associated with extending those utilities when the roadway is built.
McKay said the legislation is just to start the process and hoped to have answers for the members at council’s next meeting.
• Riley urged residents to celebrate the Wilmington Fire Department’s 175th birthday by attending its open house October 10 at the department’s building on Sugartree Street.
• Riley asked citizens to consider going to the Hope over Heroin event October 9 and 10, adding, “we’ve sadly lost” the War on Drugs begun by former President Richard Nixon.
• Riley proclaimed September 21 through 26 Adult Literacy Week. He praised a number of women who work to help people learn to read.
• Council approved the first reading Thursday and a second reading Tuesday on an urban paving project for 1.7 miles of State Route 730. The Ohio Department of Transportation would pay for 80 percent of the paving, but the city is responsible for 100 percent of all needed repairs.
• Council first read an ordinance creating a no parking zone on South Walnut Street where it intersects Sugartree Street. McKay said trucks have difficulty turning when cars are parked there.
• Council first read an ordinance creating a four-way stop at the intersection of South Walnut Street and East Short Street. The intersection is currently a three-way stop, but McKay said there have been accidents and near-accidents because people think it is a four-way stop.
• Paul Hunter, a Wilmington resident, said the city doesn’t fluoridate its water due to a referendum from the ‘70s. Hunter also said the city didn’t have a codified price for the bulk purchase of water by the thousand gallons. He said the price, $5.50, is well below market price and that of other cities, which he said charge about $10 each.
• Council passed a number of financial items, including appropriating $1,200 for K9 supplies and transferring $46,450 from a bond’s principal amount to the interest of bonds, among other appropriatiosn and transfers. Council also paid $207,048.15 for sewer rehabilitation from a 2014 expense that was received after 2014 ended. The expense was originally part of 2014’s budget.
• Tuesday, council received gifts to benefit Sugar Grove Cemetery, which the city recently took ownership of. The resolution accepting gifts is to be reviewed annually.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.