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Mayor to get pay raise? Measure draws mixed reviews from assembly

Posted: Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly introduced an ordinance to increase the borough mayor salary by nearly $20,000 at its meeting in Seward Tuesday night.

If enacted after the public hearing May 17, the ordinance would change the mayor's salary to $99,000 from $80,000.

"It's been 20 years since the mayor received his last raise," said Assemblyman Mako Haggerty, of Homer, chairman of the policies and procedures committee.

He said other borough staff salaries have increased over the years while the mayor's pay has remained the same.

Assembly members Bill Smith and Charlie Pierce introduced the ordinance.

Smith said he has been thinking about increasing the mayor's salary for couple years now.

"We've got to get it done," he said.

The salary for that position is too low, and now is the time to raise it.

"If you're going to change the mayor's salary this is the year to do it," Smith said. "Any change to the mayor's salary has to happen in the budget before a mayoral election."

The assembly has yet to approve the budget for fiscal year 2012 and the election for borough mayor is this fall.

However, other assembly members think the timing is wrong for any extraneous budget expenditures.

Assembly President Gary Knopp said he would not be supporting the ordinance.

"It's probably past due. I think that the mayor should make as much as his staff. There's many staff members who make more than his salary," Knopp said. "Even though a raise is appropriate I think this is the wrong year to be doing so."

Citing the yet unfunded Homer Solid Waste Landfill closure and conversion to transfer site, as well as the rising costs of health care, Knopp said the borough has other things to worry about.

Current Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey is against the salary increase this year, too.

While undecided if he will be running for re-election, the mayor said he does not support the increase.

"Economically it is not the right time to do it," Carey said.

But, he pointed out the discrepancies in the mayor's salary with the borough's top management.

He said more than half of those employees make more than $80,000 per year.

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at brielle.schaeffer@peninsulaclarion.com.



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