Citizens group to review wage increases for elected officials

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(Posted Jan. 24, 2018)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

London city council is convening a citizens committee to review and make recommendations concerning a proposed wage increase for elected officials and appointees.

In November, former council member Dick Minner proposed a one-time 33 percent wage increase, effective Jan. 1, 2020, for the mayor, auditor, law director, treasurer, council president, council clerk, council members, and board of public utilities members. The last increase was in 2008.

From the time Minner introduced the legislation, council has debated the issue, and citizens have raised questions and concerns. Council decided to table the issue in order to conduct more research and gather input from the community.

Council member Rex Castle is forming the citizens committee. He is looking to recruit business people, citizens who are active in the community, and people who have experience with city operations. As of the Jan. 18 council meeting, he had one person committed to serving on the five-person committee.

He said the group will be comprised of people that residents “respect and look up to.”

“I will bring them information that was available to us and then I’m going to excuse myself,” he said, explaining that city officials will not be part of the proposal review process.

Castle expects the committee to complete the review in short order.

“It will probably only take two meetings. It’s not going to be a long, drawn out thing,” he said.

In other action at the Jan. 18 meeting, council heard a first reading on an ordinance setting the maximum number of full-time personnel each city department can hire. This “strength ordinance” was last modified early last year. Various positions have changed since then, making an update necessary.

If passed, the update would increase the maximum number of employees allowed in the police department by two and in the street, fire, and recreation departments by one each.

The recreation department addition is a new position for a maintenance worker.

Earlier in the meeting, new council member Richard Hays praised Tammy Braskett, parks and recreation director, for the work she does.

“She has a lot on her shoulders. We need to get her some help,” he said.

About the strength ordinance, Castle commented, “I think we should study this real close, but the (2018) budget does reflect these new positions.”

The measure will be up for a second reading at council’s Feb. 1 meeting.

Mayor Patrick Closser reported on road clearing efforts related to the heavy snowfall that hit a couple of weeks ago.

“All in all, I feel our street department did a good job, and the streets looked good considering all the snow we got,” he said. “I just ask that citizens please be patient with us when large storms hit and know that we are out putting the hours in to get the roads clear.”

There are 100 miles of roadway within the city limits. To plow both sides of the streets, crews cover a total of 200 miles. When clearing streets, the city starts with the main roads, like state routes, then moves on to the streets that connect to the main routes, and lastly addresses streets in residential areas.

Closser reminded residents that they cannot park on the street if there is two or more inches of snowfall. Also, residents and businesses are responsible for clearing their sidewalks.

Closser also commented on the opening of two new businesses in town, Soap and Sudz Laundry and La Carreta Mexican Restaurant, both located in Eagleton Plaza off of Lafayette Street. The Madison County Chamber of Commerce held ribbon cuttings for both businesses on Jan. 12.

He noted that Maronda Homes continues to move forward with its plan to build another 149 homes in the Chevington subdivision located behind Walmart. The expansion will be done in phases, dictated by demand.

“My guess is they will do 40 to 50 homes in the spring,” Closser said.

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