By Linda Dillman
Determining the worth of the mayor, now that a city administrator position is part of the Canal Winchester city hierarchy, continues to dominate council discussion.
First tabled and then untabled for discussion purposes during the May 1 Canal Winchester City Council work session, council then again tabled the resolution establishing salary and benefit compensation for the mayor’s position.
A decision must be made before a July 1 deadline.
The estimated salary range for the city administrator is between $104,000 and $146,000. The current base salary for the mayor—not including benefits such as a $500 a month car allowance and insurance coverage—is $100,842.
Previously, council discussed potential salary reduction ranges, but did not settle on a specific number until the city administrator position was adopted.
Suggestions included reducing the salary down to $40,000 to as high as maintaining the current base for two years until the charter commission meets and makes recommendations for potential changes.
“You’re paying that person for being the executive leader of the city,” said Councilwoman Laurie Amick.
She suggested reducing the mayor’s auto allowance by half and only offering single insurance coverage.
“Public sector benefits are generous and expensive,” said Councilman Patrick Shea. “I think you need to include that as part of the package. It’s surprising how much those benefit packages are.”
Councilwoman Jill Amos asked if it is fiscally responsible to have two salary top heavy positions.
“I think it is fiscally responsible not to have two top heavy positions for 9,000 people,” said Amos.
Council President Chuck Milliken thought the current $100,000-plus salary should still be the floor compensation for the mayor.
“The residents approved the city manager’s position,” said Milliken. “What we’re here to do is to determine the salary. We’re here to deliberate what is best.”
Councilman Steve Buskirk said he felt like council was attempting to make a charter change that needs to be decided by constituents.
“The change we’re trying to push forward should be made by our constituents and not this council,” said Buskirk. “I think it gives the appearance we are going toward a weak mayor by this decision.”
Amos replied, “We’re not changing the charter at this point. We are being fiscally responsible for doing one thing while maintaining the other. We have to look at the salary for what it is.”
During regular council action, an ordinance updating swimming pool admission rates was approved, along with an ordinance creating a seasonal aquatics supervisor.