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CITY COUNCIL MEETING 12/08/14 (City Salaries, Legal Counsel Contracts)

Council Sets Salaries for Elected Offices
By CATHERINE STORTZ RIPLEY 
December 9, 2014

Chillicothe City Council members set salaries and compensation rates for the elected positions of mayor, city council, auditor, treasurer, city clerk, constable and attorney that will go into effect following the April 2015 municipal election and will span a term of two years. The city council unanimously approved a single ordinance to set the salaries and compensation for all city elected officials during their regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall. The decision was made before the opening of the candidate filing period, which begins at 8 a.m. next Tuesday, December 16. Although permissible to set the salaries anytime before the election, it has been customary for the city to set the salaries prior to the opening of the filing period. The candidate filing period closes at 5 p.m. on January 20, 2015.

Council members talked at length regarding the pay for the offices of clerk and auditor before deciding upon a 5 percent salary increase over the current pay. The offices of clerk and auditor are the only full-time city elected positions and the increase is a one-time increase for the full two-year term. Approved for both offices was a salary of $50,232 annually, plus $75 per meeting of the council held after office hours if attended by the office holder. The positions also include the employee retirement and health benefits that all full-time employees of the city receive. Before approving the compensation, Councilman-at-Large David Moore noted that the entire benefits package should be considered when reviewing and setting the salaries. Theresa Kelly, who currently serves as the elected city auditor, said that the city's compensation for auditor and clerk are lower than the norm, and less than what they would be if the city surpassed 20,000 population and would be required to appoint a clerk and auditor. The office of mayor, a part-time position, also received a 5 percent salary increase for the new term beginning in April 2015, producing a salary of $15,834 annually. No changes were made to the mayor's monthly car allowance of $200 and monthly phone allowance of $100. No changes were made to the compensation for council members. The pay will remain at $75 per meeting (regular or special meeting) of the city council attended by the council member. It was also approved that the finance chairman's pay should remain at $75 per finance meeting attended. Finance meetings are held monthly. The council also approved compensation for the elected city treasurer and city attorney, which was set at $1 annually. The city currently contracts for legal counsel and with Livingston County for tax collection services; however, since the city charter still calls for these elected positions, they are included in the ordinance and will be listed on the ballot. While the county provides the tax collection services, all other responsibilities that had been part of the treasurer's scope of duties are now part of the city clerk's position.

Also Monday evening, the council approved a contract with Adam L. Warren to represent the city in ordinance and nuisance enforcement. Warren, who also is Livingston County prosecuting attorney, currently contracts with the city to provide these services at an annual fee of $36,600. No changes were made to the compensation rate or the contract for the new year. The council also approved a contract with the Chapman-Cowherd law firm to provide legal services for the city at a rate of $150 per hour. The new contract is similar to the existing contract with no changes in compensation.

Mayor Chuck Haney presided over Monday night's meeting with the full council present. An executive session was held following the regular meeting. No votes were taken according to City Clerk Roze Frampton. During open discussion following the regular council meeting, an individual who provides snow removal services requested extra signage encouraging motorists to beware of snow plows. It is unlikely that signs will be placed, but the council urged motorists to drive cautiously during inclement weather and when snow plows are at work.

Several council members and other elected officials mentioned the city's employee recognition party and said that it was one of the largest attended and that many employees thought it was the best ever.

Auditor Kelly also noted that removing spouses from the city's insurance plan, an action that was taken during the council's previous meeting, turned out to be a good thing and that she had received a lot of positive feedback from employees.

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