Rossford Council members, from left, Greg Marquette, Caroline Eckel, Larry Oberdorf, and Jerry Staczek attend a meeting where an ordinance to ask voters for a raise received its first reading.
Rossford City Council on Monday took the first step toward asking voters to give itself and the mayor a big pay raise in order to earn full credit for a state pension.
The pay raises would be substantial but start from a low base salary. They would go into effect Dec. 1 if voters approve requests to amend the city charter on the Nov. 5 ballot.
Council gave the requests a first reading at its regular meeting, with no discussion. Two members, Michael Scott and Robert Ruse, were absent. Three readings would be needed for passage, unless council decided otherwise.
Council members are paid $250 per month (its president, $275), a stipend that has not changed since 1993.
The pay increase stipulated by the proposed charter changes would increase the council salary to $700 per month so members could continue to accrue full credit in the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System.
The mayoral salary would increase from $625 per month to $1,500.
Mayor Neil MacKinnon said after the meeting that he had no input in the proposed charter change. He said he would accept the pay increase if voters approved it but would not campaign for the raise.
“I wasn’t involved in it. I didn’t get into this for the money. I’m just putting my head down and trying to do my job. At the end of the day, the citizens of Rossford will decide if the mayor is worth that amount of money,” Mr. MacKinnon said.
The issue of pay raises for council has been under discussion since last year. It came about as a result of an increase in the minimum pay set by OPERS for full pension credit that takes effect Jan. 1.
After intense discussion, council approved pay raises at its Jan. 14 meeting, then two weeks later did an about-face and unanimously voted to table the matter for further consideration.
Council President Larry Oberdorf said after Monday’s meeting that the raises were justified, citing a survey done for council and the mayor that showed Rossford’s elected officials received the lowest pay in the area, except for Ottawa Hills, which pays its council members and mayor $120 per year.
He said the pensions earned by council members would be low.
“We’re talking $50 to $100 per month, but in our day and age, it’s a helpful thing to have,” he said.
The OPERS minimum pay requirement will rise. It is indexed to future hikes in the pay of township trustees, raises that are set by the Ohio Legislature and based on a township’s budget.
Under the proposed charter amendments, Rossford council would have to approve increases in the future, but raises after Dec. 1 would not take effect during an office-holder’s current term.
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