Rossford City Council has voted to give its members a pay raise to keep them eligible for pension benefits. What's more, future raises will occur automatically.
The issue has been under intense discussion since last year, and finally was approved only after Mayor Neil MacKinnon III cast a tie-breaking vote to defeat a motion to table the proposed measure. The vote to adopt the ordinance authorizing the raises then passed 4-2, with Councilman Chuck Duricek absent.
Council members are paid $250 per month (its president, $275), a stipend that has not changed since 1993. That will increase to $600 a month so council members can continue to accrue credit in the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System. Effective Jan. 7, that amount became the minimum pay needed to earn full credit in OPERS.
Council members' future raises will occur automatically because the minimum pay set by OPERS for full credit is indexed to future hikes in the pay of township trustees, raises that are set by the state law and based on a township's budget. The last increase in trustees' pay was in 2008, Rossford Administrator Ed Ciecka said at the council meeting.
Under Rossford's city charter, the raises cannot take effect before a councilman's next election. And because council terms are staggered, the change means some members will be paid more than others.
The terms of four council members -- Mr. Duricek, Caroline Eckel, Michael Scott, and Jerry Staczek -- expire Nov. 30. Their raises would take effect Dec. 1 if they remained in office.
The terms of the other three members -- Gregory Marquette, Larry Oberdorf, and Robert Ruse -- extend to Nov. 30, 2015.
It was Mr. Ruse who made the motion during the meeting last week to table the ordinance, saying the raises should be put to the voters or sent to a committee for study. He and Mr. Marquette cast the no votes on adoption of the ordinance.
Mayor MacKinnon, who will not benefit from the raises, said he believed they were justified. According to him, Rossford council members are among the lowest paid in northwest Ohio.
"I think you deserve it.," he told council. "We're keeping up with municipalities around us. It happens to attract better quality candidates."