A Hillsboro City Council committee has tabled the idea of giving raises to elected city officials, citing financial and image concerns and limited information.
Members of council’s Finance Committee met briefly Wednesday evening to discuss the idea, which was brought before council at its last meeting by Hillsboro Auditor Gary Lewis. The committee agreed to wait for preliminary budget figures for 2019 before taking action on the idea.
Finance Committee Chairman Justin Harsha said the last time the pay scale changed was in 2008, and the argument for approving raises is that keeping competitive pay incentivises more qualified people to run for office.
Harsha said the following is the pay scale for elected officials in the city:
• Auditor: $45,000
• Law director: $37,500
• Mayor: $25,000
• Treasurer: $4,326
• Council members and president: $3,600
Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings said all the positions are considered part-time, and do not have mandatory working hours. City officials, with the exception of the treasurer, receive health insurance from the city, he said.
Councilwoman Wendy Culbreath, who is not on the committee but attended Wednesday’s meeting, said the rates were “pretty good money for part-time.”
Councilwoman and committee member Ann Morris said she is more concerned about costly city projects getting finished than council members getting raises, and said the committee should wait until they have seen budget numbers for next year before making a decision.
Morris also said it would be wise to wait until council decides whether or not to join Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District as a member, since doing so would change the landscape of city finances.
Councilwoman Mary Stanforth, another committee member, agreed that the committee should not make a decision until it has reviewed next year’s budget.
Morris added that elected officials’ focus should be on serving the public rather than money.
“I feel like we’re almost just service,” she said. “You’re giving your time.”
Stanforth suggested the committee review similar cities’ pay scales for elected officials. Harsha said he had received Hillsboro’s pay scale the day of the meeting.
Hastings told The Times-Gazette after the meeting that he is opposed to the idea.
“I just don’t think we need any pay increases for any elected official,” he said. “I don’t think you should start making pay of an elected official high enough that it starts to become appealing as a job or career, because the bottom line is you’re going into it for public service. You shouldn’t be going into it for the money.”
Hastings also said city officials’ health insurance “has a really good value to it” already.
Also Wednesday, the committee tabled the idea of changing the city’s lodging tax into a lodging fee in code language due to issues with an ongoing city audit. Harsha said Law Director Fred Beery and Council President Lee Koogler suggested the change.
After some discussion, the committee agreed to gather more information and discuss the idea further at a later date.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570.