Committee proposes $75k salary for Salisbury mayor

After years without raising the mayor’s annual salary, the Salisbury City Council is considering tripling the $25,000 the position now pays.

This week, City Council members talked about an increase at a work session after reviewing a report from the Salisbury Review Committee. The public citizens panel recommended the jump in salary, because of more responsibilities and complexities in the mayor’s job as the city grows and because of the number of hours the mayor works.

The committee is also recommending 18 percent pay hikes for City Council members. Their current pay of $10,000 would go to $11,800 and the Council president’s would go from $12,000 to $14,160.

By comparison, the Ocean City mayor earns $30,000 every year. The Wicomico County executive is paid $85,000 annually and County Council members receive $16,000.

Salisbury is unique because it has retained a strong mayor form of government. City voters last rejected a change to City Manager form in May 2000. Fewer than 5 percent of Maryland municipalities are strong-mayor.

“We did not reach a consensus at our work session. We were split on a bunch of different areas,” City Council President Jack Heath said.

“My position is that, you get what you pay for and the salary should be commensurate with the responsibility.

“I likened it to the business world. I was asked by one of the councilmen what the salary would be for a CEO with a $58 million company. It would be between $65,000 and $80,000 depending on the company,” Heath said.

Although no decision was made this week, Heath said he believes the salary will be increased.

“We’ll have a longer discussion about it at the next work session. There’s no rush. It doesn’t take effect until after the next election in 2019,” he said.

Sitting elected officials cannot give themselves raises.

Under the City Charter a raise panel is seated every four years to evaluate compensation scales for the mayor and City Council members. To take effect, the committee’s recommendations would have to withstand council scrutiny, be approved by the Council and then signed into law by the mayor.

A Salary Review Committee made similar recommendations four years ago, but the raises were voted down on a 3-2 vote. Ironically it was Mayor Jake Day — who was then City Council President — who cast the deciding negative vote and now, as mayor, he said he isn’t convinced an increase is necessary.

Working as mayor isn’t his only source of income. He also receives earnings from the U.S. Army Reserves and his wife, Liz, is a school teacher in the county.

Salary Review Committee members are Kimberly C. Gillis, chairwoman; Winona Hocutt; Robert L. Moore, a CPA; Albert G. “Gil” Allen III, a lawyer; Jennifer Jordan; and Lily Chi-Fang Tsai.

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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