Change in mayor’s salary proposed

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 28, 2000

Two Ironton City Council members are proposing legislation that would let city voters decide if they want to change they way they will pay future mayors.

Friday, July 28, 2000

Two Ironton City Council members are proposing legislation that would let city voters decide if they want to change they way they will pay future mayors.

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Council members Bob Vaughn and Robert Lipker have sponsored an ordinance that would place an issue on the next general election ballot asking residents if they want to amend the City Charter to set the salary of the mayor at $45,000.

The ordinance received its first reading at Thursday’s council meeting.

The measure would not affect current Mayor Bob Cleary, but would apply instead to whoever took the job next, Vaughn said.

Council cannot make the decision to change the salary. City voters must approve all changes to the charter.

Vaughn said he composed the ordinance in response to complaints from some of his constituents about the mayor’s salary.

"It is my belief that I must provide the residents of Ironton an option of fixing the mayor’s salary at $45,000 or keeping the same method of determining the salary of Ironton’s mayor," he said in a written statement.

Vaughn said after the meeting that he supports limiting the compensation the city mayor can receive.

"I believe that the salary should be fixed," he said.

He added that his proposal is not intended to be a comment about Cleary or his performance as mayor.

Vaughn said the city has only had three mayors in 20 years and that the economy in the area must be taken into account when considering how much to pay the city’s top official. He added that if the salary became inadequate, council could bring the issue back before the people.

The mayor’s salary is currently set, according to the Ironton City Charter, by taking 60 percent of the Ironton Municipal Court judge’s salary. Cleary makes about $57,540 a year, according to that formula.

That computation allows the mayor to receive periodic raises, when the municipal court judge’s salary is increased. This allows for inflation.

Cleary said he does not take Vaughn’s proposal personally, but advised that putting such a limit on the salary might impact the city in the future.

"The Ohio Municipal League took a survey for the year 2000 that shows the Ironton’s mayor’s salary not only fits the state average based on population, but also in the percentage of General Fund appropriation," he said.

Keeping the mayor’s salary in line with the state average will keep more people interested in pursuing the post, he added.

"Any qualified person who looks at the mayor’s position being a four-year term with a second, four-year term maximum and then considers leaving their current position needs to have an incentive to make that decision," Cleary said. "Ironton must offer a salary that will attract the very best qualified professional people to seek candidacy for the mayor’s position."

Cleary said the discussion of the ordinance will not affect the job he will do for the city.

"Regardless of what happens with this salary issue, I am going to continue to work just as hard as I have for the last three years to move Ironton forward."

In other business, council:

– Heard first readings of two ordinances concerning stray animals as proposed by councilman Vaughn. The proposals, which included a definition of nuisance animals and a provision for impounding stray animals, were referred to council’s Finance Committee for review. Because the proposals were introduced into the record and received their first readings during the meeting, citizens were allowed time to comment on the measures.

– Heard a comment from council member Robert Price regarding coal dust in the city. Price had received a complaint from a constituent regarding the dust generated by coal trains coming through town.

Price said he researched the issue himself and said that the dust coming off the trains looked like a "big swarm of bees."

Councilman Leo Ulery said when he ran a trucking company, he hauled coke, which generates dust, too. He said complaints filed with the Public Utilities Commission and then passed along to the Interstate Commerce Commission resulted in his business having to outfit the trucks with tarps.

He added that he thought a similar response could be forced on the railroad companies.

"I think they can do it, if they will," Ulery said. "What happens is it becomes cost-prohibitive and they forget to do it."

He encouraged residents to speak up and to file complaints.