Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

Pay raise vetoed
Mayor: Mayor's raise too big

by Chris Schultz

August 22, 2013

For the first time, Mayor Jim Connors brought out his veto pen and crossed out a decision made by the Lake Geneva City Council to approve a pay raise for the council members and the mayor.

The veto is modest. Connors writes “I respectfully veto the Council’s action to increase salaries…”

That means the issue goes back to the council for reconsideration at the Aug. 26 meeting.

It takes six votes for the council to overturn a veto.

It’s not that Connors was necessarily against pay raises for the mayor and council members.

His reasoning was: The mayor got too big of a hike.

At the Aug. 12 city council meeting, the council members voted 5-2 with one alderman absent, to increase the annual salaries for council members from $3,500 to $4,000 and the mayor from $6,000 to $7,500.

That amounts to a 14.3 percent increase for the council members, and a 25 percent increase for the mayor.

“While I appreciate your dedication to the service of our citizens, I feel that the salary increase the council approved for the mayor is excessive,” Connors explained in his veto letter to the council.

By law, the raise approved by the council wouldn’t begin to kick in until the next round of municipal elections.

Lake Geneva has four aldermanic districts, and two council members serve staggered two-year terms from each district.

One council member from each aldermanic district will be up for election in 2014, with the other council member from each district standing for election in 2015.

The mayor’s seat is also up for election in 2014. Those elected in the 2014 election would be the first to get the raises, followed by council members elected in 2015.

The mayor and council haven’t gotten a raise since 2008.

And more than a few council members said they thought it was time to boost it a bit.

As the council members conceded, no one will get rich on their pay as aldermen and alderwomen.

But the salaries do defray some of the cost of running for and serving in office.

During the Aug. 5 committee of the whole meeting, City Clerk Mike Hawes presented a pay study which compared 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.

Alderman Sturg Taggart pointed out that the village of Hales Corners, a Milwaukee suburb 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.

But when the proposed raises of $4,000 and $7,500 were put to a vote a week later, Taggart joined Alderman Jeff Wall in voting against the raises.

Alderman Bill Mott was excused and absent for that meeting.