The City of Atlantic’s Personnel and Finance Committee met for about 30-minutes Monday afternoon to discuss the process of evaluating the City Administrator, and to consider an increase in the compensation received by the Mayor and City Council. Prior to their discussion, City Administrator Doug Harris explained Iowa Code has a say in when such compensation can be called for and how soon it can be implemented. He said when Council’s increase their compensation, they can’t do that in the months of November and December. Even if the Council were to approve a raise, it wouldn’t take effect until the next election cycle.
That means if the Council voted in January to approve an increase, it wouldn’t become effective for the Council until 2016, and for the Mayor in 2018, beginning in January 2019. Mayor Dave Jones pointed out the last time the Council and Mayor had a raise was in 1999, after it was approved in 1998. Currently, Council members receive $30 for each Council meeting and $20 for each committee or commission meeting they attend. The Mayor receives an annual salary of $8,000. The committee was looking at a 25-to 50-percent increase.
Mayor Dave Jones requested the Personal and Finance Committee discuss the matter during the meeting. The committee tossed around the idea of adjusting the Mayor’s salary and leaving the Council’s rate unchanged, but further discussion and a comment by Mayor Jones swayed them to agree if should be across the board. Jones said it won’t break the budget to provide a fair raise, and it would act as more of a “Thank you” to the Council. Steve Livengood said if a $10 raise for the Council is too much, it could be cut to $5. Councilperson Kathy Somers said by the time it’s actually implemented it’ll be 20-years since the last raise.
The way the system is set-up, the Council cannot vote to raise it’s salary and that of the Mayor without public approval. Councilman Shawn Shouse said issues such as commercial property tax rate rollbacks and required City services will require the Council to try and provide the same or additional services with less money from taxes, therefore a 25-to 50-percent raise is not necessary for the Council, but the Mayor spends a considerable amount of time away from his own business to handle matters related to the City. No action was taken during the meeting.
As for the City Administrator’s evaluation, in the past, the Committee has sought community input through surveys, and most recently, conducted its own evaluation. This time around, they agreed to conduct an informal survey at their next meeting on November 6th, during which public input will be accepted.