Dear People: At tomorrow night's Village Council meeting (7 pm, Bryan Center, 2nd floor, Village Council Chambers) we are mostly focusing on economic development ideas; however we'll also be discussing the Water Treatment plant, the possible renewal of the property tax levy (that we have been using on streets, police, the pool and the library), increasing Council pay, and developing a plan for fixing/replacing sidewalks in town. Additionally we'll be going into executive session for a teleconference with our village attorney, John Chambers, regarding pending litigation.
There's no legislation so we'll immediately turn to old business:
1) the Water Treatment Plant's interest in testing the use of potassium permanganate to deal with brown color in our water;
2) an update on Visioning/ Planning (see page 12 and following of this week's packet); and then Economic Development.
3) ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Karen and Judith have developed a plan for an Economic Sustainablility Board that would especially focus on non-traditional forms of economic development (see page 18 and following of this week's packet). Kathryn and Karen, I believe, both support a plan to hire an economic development director, probably along the lines of the plan that we had VM Cundiff develop. (See page 9 of last meeting's packet).
I remain unconvinced that hiring a person for this specific job for a variety of reasons but especially: 1) economic development officers rarely earn back to the municipality the cost of their salaries; 2) no other position in Village government has solely one job responsibility as this would have.
4) COUNCIL PAY: After this discussion we will turn to the issue of a pay raise for Village Council that would, per ordinance, take effect on the next Council (after the November election). See page 20+ of this week's packet. I support a pay increase for Council. Our pay has not been raised since 1996, when it rose from $1500 to $2100 per year; this is $155 / month. I attend a MINIMUM of 5 meetings per month; regularly, I attend 6 or 7 meetings, when we have special meetings, etc., and some of these are day-long retreats. By contrast, our own school board earns $125/meeting for up to 24 meetings / year. They can join the retirement program and buy into the medical insurance program; we cannot. Township trustees--where admittedly there is no manager's salary--are paid $9,000 / year and have acces to the state health insurance and retirement programs.
If I had children, there's no way my child care would be paid for by this meager stipend. Comparing our pay to other municipalities, we are, I would say, underpaid---only a few municipalities pay less, and they have stronger mayors (e.g., Hamilton pays only $1,500 / year but over $17,445 for the mayor; Monroe pays only $1,800/year and also only pays its mayor $4,200/year). Kettering pays over $14,800 per year (the mayor gets $21,900), while Oxford pays $3200, and there are many in between those figures.
I did not run for this position for the money. But I did run with a basic platform of encouraging broad participation in the democratic process. When we pay too little, only people who are wealthy can afford to participate. This is wrong.
5) LEVY/ BLUE RIBBON FINANCE: We will finally be turn to levy renewal and our process for examining that, including the possible appointment of a blue ribbon finance committee to look at the whole picture of our budget.
6) SIDEWALK RULES: Then we'll turn to sidewalk rules, giving consideration to the idea of having the village pay for fixing sidewalks as well as to our current status of having property owners pay. After standing reports, we'll turn to executive session with our solicitor, via teleconference, about a possible litigation.
I hope that is clear! Frank and I want to watch a DVD tonight (Vicki Christina Barcelona, by Woody Allen) so I'm going to log off now, but feel free to write me with questions, ideas, concerns, as always!
(Oh, and I'm sorry I've been kind of a slouch about my office hours! I will be in the Emporium on Wed. morning at 10, but must leave right at 11 for a meeting in Spfld).