A former Delaware City Council member appeared before the city’s charter review commission last week to suggest giving council members a raise.
Andrew Brush, who represented the city’s 4th Ward, appeared before the commission as a citizen with a couple of suggestions to change the city’s charter, which is its governing document. One was to increase the salaries of the council members and the mayor; and the other was to increase the number of wards because of the Delaware’s population growth.
The salary discussion was the liveliest part of the 108-minute meeting.
“Council members are part-time civil servants” says the city’s website. Council members make $8,260 a year; and the mayor, who is also on council, makes $8,760 a year.
“In my judgment, the role of a city councilman in Delaware is every bit as important as an Orange, Liberty or Genoa Township trustee, but the compensation is one-third of those jurisdictions,” Brush said. “I don’t feel that the current rate of compensation is commensurate with what it really takes to do the job properly.”
Brush said council members are reluctant to vote to give themselves a pay raise, and the low salary keeps some qualified candidates away from the job. He cited 3rd Ward council member Joe DiGenova, who had planned to retire, but has stayed on since no one decided to run for council in that ward.
“Nobody gets into public life for the money, and I don’t think increasing the salary of a council member from $8,000 to $18,000 a year would cause someone to get into it for the money,” Brush said. “And even if someone’s doing the job for the money, that means they’re going to try to do a good job. If it’s important to them to continue earning that paycheck, they’re going to be pretty responsive to constituent concerns, and try to represent their ward or the city the best they possibly can.”
After input from most of the commission, the consensus appeared to be that council should determine and vote on its salary; that no salary figure should appear in the charter text; and that raises should go into effect sooner than council has legislated.
Every eight years, Delaware’s city charter is required to be examined by a nine-person review commission. After several meetings, the commission will submit its report of recommendations to City Council by July 11. Once recommendations are made, council will decide which, if any, recommendations it will submit to city voters in November’s general election.
The next meeting is May 12. The charter can viewed at www.delawareohio.net. Suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 740-203-1010.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.