City council votes against a pay increase

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By Andrea Cordle
Grove City Editor

Grove City Council members will not receive an increase in salary.

At the Sept. 19 meeting, the majority of council voted against a measure that would have raised the salary for future council members.

Council members currently receive a salary of $11,000 per year, with the council president earning $11,500 annually. The legislation would have raised that amount to $16,000 for council members and $16,500 for the council president.

The increases would not have taken place until 2024.

“This council is not allowed to give themselves a raise,” said Stephen Smith, law director for the city of Grove City. “You cannot give a pay raise in the middle of a term. This would not take effect until the next council seat opens.”

Former councilman Aaron Schlabach spoke against the measure, saying pay raises should be determined by those who hire elected officials.

“It is incumbent on council, for good faith, to vote this down and have it put on the ballot,” he said.

Schlabach said even though the salary increase would not go into effect until the next term, those currently serving are likely to be re-elected.

Councilwoman Christine Houk voted against the increase in salary, along with Mark Sigrist and Randy Holt. Houk said she believes council members are already competitively compensated.

According to Houk, Grove City council members are paid a higher rate than those in Gahanna, Groveport, Pickerington, Reynoldsburg, Upper Arlington, and Westerville. The salary is comparable to council members in Dublin and New Albany, but less than those in Columbus and Hilliard.

Council president Ted Berry and councilman Roby Schottke voted in favor of the pay increase.

Schottke said they were following procedures of the city charter, which was approved by voters.

“We’re doing this for future council members,” he said.

In November of 2017, Grove City voters amended the number of council members to seven, which will begin in January 2024.

In other news, council approved an ordinance to expand the tuition reimbursement program for employees.

Grove City has offered tuition reimbursement to its full-time employees, but city leaders want to include part-time employees as well.

“We have to pay more attention to our part-time people,” said Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage.

Under this program, all full-time and part-time employees are eligible for a maximum of $5,000 in reimbursement per calendar year for tuition and books. Only coursework provided by a recognized institution (university, college, community college, post-secondary technical school) are eligible for reimbursement under the program.

According to Chuck Boso, city administrator, there are between 100 and 120 part-time employees in the city.

“They do various tasks for us and provide a service at a reasonable cost,” he said.

The ordinance was unanimously approved by council.

“I love this investment in our workforce,” said Houk.

Berry called it a “step in the right direction,” but said he would like to see the city provide healthcare for the part-time employees as well.

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