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Published: Wednesday, 1/25/2006

Delta: Charter revise pushed to cut leap in payroll

BY JANET ROMAKER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

DELTA - A few years ago, council members were paid about $100 a month - but that amount could jump to $450 in January, 2007, unless Delta voters agree to a charter change.

Mayor Don Gerdes, who said he doesn't think the village's general fund budget could handle such an increase, is recommending that a charter amendment be placed on the November ballot to change the method of payment for council members.

It's anticipated that council will discuss the possible charter change during its committee-of-the-whole session in February, officials said.

Delta's charter, which was drawn up by a 15-member charter commission, details the administrative rules and procedures for the village. Voters approved the charter in 2000, and it went into effect in 2001.

Under the charter's provisions, council members are paid at the rate at least equal to one full year's service credit with the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System. That means that council members now earn $3,000 a year. Before the charter, council members were paid $35 a meeting. Typically council members are paid for three meetings per month.

Mr. Gerdes said it appears that the charter commission did not anticipate hefty pay increases as a result of PERS changes. At the time the charter was drawn up, the $3,000 level had remained steady for years, he said. Based on information from village officials, each council member would need to be paid $5,400 a year in 2007 to earn a year's service credit with PERS.

Mayor Gerdes would like to see a charter amendment that removes any tie to an index for PERS. He wants council's pay to be set as it was in the past - by ordinance, based on an amount determined by village officials. Under that provision, no council member could get a pay increase during his or her term in office, he said.

By a two-thirds vote, council could place a charter amendment on the ballot, the mayor said. If that fails to happen, voters could circulate petitions to get the pay issue on the ballot.

The mayor's pay is not tied to PERS. Mr. Gerdes said he has received the same pay, $4,065 a year, for eight years.

Gary Baker, village administrator, agreed that the charter commission likely did not envision that there would be a dramatic increase in council pay as a result of PERS.

"PERS is changing the rules. PERS is changing the minimum amount needed to be eligible for one year of service credit," he said. Under that change, council pay would go from $250 to $450 a month.

In addition, the village's contribution to PERS for the council members is set to increase in 2007, Mr. Baker said. Unless the charter is changed, it would cost the village $37,098 for the six council members next year, up from the current $20,439, a difference of about $16,500, he said.

Before the charter, the village's annual cost for council members' pay was $7,560.

Contact Janet Romaker

at: jromaker@theblade.com

or 419-724-6006.



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