Janesville12.3°

Milton council rejects its pay raise

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Stacy Vogel
October 29, 2008
— The Milton City Council has waited a long time to see a pay increase.

Now, it will have to wait even longer.


The council voted unanimously Tuesday to reverse a pay increase scheduled to take effect in April.


Council members said they couldn't support increasing pay in a time of economic crisis. Milton, like other cities, is going to face a tight 2009 budget, said council member David Adams.


"We're asking all the departments to look at every aspect to cut expenses, and the city staff took a minimal increase," he said. "It's only fair that we look at our (increase)."


In 2007, the city council approved a citizens group recommendation to increase council members' pay from $1,200 to $2,600 a year and the mayor's pay from $2,200 to $3,900 a year. Later that year, it approved increasing the municipal judge's pay from $4,000 to $7,000 a year.


State law prohibits councils from increasing their pay during their current terms, so the increases couldn't go into effect until after the April 2009 election.


It would have been the first pay increase for elected officials since the mid-1990s, if not earlier.


The increase passed 5-1 in 2007, but council members agreed now is not the time to implement a raise.


"It would've been nice to get a little raise, but on the other hand, I don't want people to think that my raise is going to affect what they are going to receive as far as city services," council member Lynda Clark said.


Council member David Schumacher voted for the increase in 2007 because he thought it would help other people run for council, especially parents who might have to hire babysitters during council meetings, he said.


But given the city's levy limits, mandated services and decreasing revenue, it makes sense to reverse the increase now, he said.


Mayor Nate Bruce said he doesn't mind postponing the raises in a time of crisis, but he hopes the council reapproves the raises when the economy improves.


"It took a long time to get increases, so I'm not sure we need to just get rid of them," he said. "If things get back to normal, then I think (the raises are) something we should pursue."


If the council decides to re-enact the raises, they couldn't take effect until all members' terms expire—about two years.


But Adams said he wouldn't support any pay increase in the next few years.


"I don't see things getting much better anytime soon," he said.



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