Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Council looks at pay raises

by Chris Schultz

August 08, 2013

Pay raises for elected officials and a paperless city council were topics of discussion at the Lake Geneva City Council Committee of the Whole meeting Aug. 5.

City Administrator Dennis Jordan said the last raise for city council members was in 2008. He said he didn't know the exact amount of the raise, but it was less than 3 percent.

If the pay raises were to be approved this fall, half of the council would get a raise after their seats were up for election the following April. And the other half would get a raise after the elections a year later.

Alderwoman Sarah Hill said she was concerned that during the last city election, two of the four seats were unopposed and one did not have an official candidate.

"How do we encourage folks to participate?" asked Hill. "How do we fill those ballots?"

Jordan said he doesn't think compensation is going to have much impact on participation in location elections.

"In the past, business people and bankers ran for office because it meant the greatest good for the greatest number," Jordan said.

Now, he said, a controversial vote on a controversial subject can cost a business-owning council member business.

City Clerk Mike Hawes did a study of compensation for elected officials in municipalities with populations between 5,000 and 15,000.

He found that the median pay for mayors and village presidents was $7,200 and $3,600 for council members and trustees.

The Lake Geneva mayor is paid $6,000 a year. Council members are paid $3,500 a year.

Alderman Alan Kupsik, who chairs the committee of the whole, said it appeared that the council members were paid close to the median.

Alderman Sturg Taggart said that by his calculations, he earned $2.18 an hour for his first year as an alderman.

"I haven't been paid $2.18 an hour since I shoveled coal in 1947," said Taggart. "I feel honored to have found a job that pays so little."

Taggart pointed out that the village of Hales Corners, with a population of 7,683, pays its village president $5,700 a year and its trustees $3,900 a year.

Lake Geneva's population is listed at 7,679.

Taggart suggested that council member pay in Lake Geneva be boosted to equal that in Hales Corners.

"I think we deserve a raise to bring us to the level of Hales Corners," Taggart said.

Alderman Dennis Lyon asked whether it were possible for the city to do a compensation study to determine whether a pay raise is warranted.

Jordan said that the work done by the various municipal boards and councils are so different that a compensation study would be almost pointless.

He added that a 3 percent raise for the council members would total $1,140.

The council members also revisited consideration of a paperless city council.

Hawes has suggested the council members go to using iPads.

Agendas and meeting packets would be sent to the iPads, rather then placed in council members' mailboxes at city hall. Hawes calculated that 12 iPads would cost about $9,000 and last for four years.

In that same period, the cost of printing and collating those same documents would cost $8,940.

While the iPads are Apple products, Hawes said that there are apps that allow Microsoft word and other Windows programs to run on the iPads.