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Mayor compensation

September 28, 2012

Waynesfield Mayor Mike Ridenour

The highest paid mayor in Auglaize County is not the highest compensated in the county, an investigation into mayoral salaries and benefits show.

St. Marys Mayor Pat McGowan is the highest paid with an annual salary of $15,000, followed by Wapakoneta Mayor Rodney Metz with an annual salary of $10,000.

The highest compensated mayor in the county and among the highest in the state for villages of comparable size is Waynesfield Mayor Mike Ridenour, who has an annual salary of $3,000, which is well below the average of $7,681 for 32 communities of similar size and population in Ohio. However, with  a health insurance plan that picks up 100 percent of the mayor’s premium costs at $15,760.56 in 2012, Ridenour’s total compensation is $18,760.56.

This year PERS, the Public Employment Retirement System, requires 14 percent contribution from the employer and 10 percent from the employee. Some

municipalities will pick up the employee’s contribution, but Wapakoneta does not. PERS payments were not figured in to the data.

In Wapakoneta, Metz would have to work full-time, or at least 32 hours a week, to be eligible for health care benefits, according to the city’s personnel policy.

Wapakoneta Mayor Rodney Metz said he did not get into the position for the money.

“The money wasn’t a motivator for me,” Metz said. “Sure, when you break it down, it comes down to a pretty low salary for the hours you put it in, but you don’t do a job like this for the money. I ran for the position because I wanted to help make a difference.”

The Wapakoneta Daily News conducted a review of mayoral salaries and basic compensation after two Waynesfield Village Council members attempted to cease the village paying for the mayor’s health insurance premium.

Councilor Bill Motter advocated eliminating health insurance for the mayor. It was one of Motter’s main platform themes during his successful election bid last November. Councilor Cheryl Jerew lobbied last year to eliminate the mayor’s insurance, a move that took effect Jan. 1.

A search of villages in the state comparable in size to Waynesfield resulted in 79 villages between the populations of 700 to 999 were contacted, with 34 responding.

Annual salaries ranged from no monetary compensation in Hunting Valley, an affluent village with a population of 705 people east of Cleveland in Northeast Ohio, to $45,000 in Glenwillow, another community situated near Cleveland.

In all 34 responding villages, the mayor position was considered a part-time position except for Woodmere, where the mayor receives an annual salary of $32,000 annual salary and a health benefit package that costs the village approximately $12,000 for total village cost of $44,000.

The Woodmere mayor is considered a full-time position.

Of the 34 villages, only Glenwillow and Woodmere were compensated higher than the Waynesfield position.

Of the 34 villages, only Woodmere and Waynesfield were the only villages to provide health insurance or any other benefits other than base salary.

With salary and health insurance compensation being figured in, the average compensation among the 34 villages was $8,548.52, meaning the Waynesfield mayor total was slightly more than double the average. The mean for the villages surveyed, or the average after removing the highest and lowest compensated officials, ranged in the $3,000 to $6,000 salary range.

Five of the six Waynesfield Village Council members were contacted via e-mail. Councilor Chris Kaufman was not contacted by phone for an e-mail address. Of the five e-mailed the findings, Jerew, Motter and Howard Traucht responded.

Traucht responded he appreciated the information and planned to look into the matter further. He said that there was other information also had to be considered and that he felt the newspaper was not the forum to address the concerns.

Jerew and Motter said the finding were what they had expected.

“I think those numbers are amplified even more when you consider what people are making on average in Waynesfield,” Motter said. “We have a lot of people in town that are just making ends meet. It is hard to justify 100 percent health insurance for the mayor.”

Councilor Rich Libby was spoken to briefly prior to the information being sent out and he said he planned to review the information. When told what the information being forwarded contained, he said other items may also need to be considered but he did not elaborate on what those items may be.

Rodney Luma verified receiving the information but did not respond to the findings.

Motter, who presented the motion to council at the July meeting, admitted he felt the move may be struck down. He said it was a matter of getting everyone’s thoughts on the matter out in the open.

“It gives voters something to think about the next time we vote on village councilors in 2013,” Motter said.

New Bremen Village Councilors also reviewed a survey taken of the pay of other area councilors and mayors to determine if an increase in compensation is warranted. Currently, councilors earn a $400 base and $50 per meeting for a total of $1,550 per year. Minster councilors earn $4,200 per year, New Knoxville councilors earn a $600 base and $40 per meeting for a total of $1,080 and Coldwater councilors earn $3,000 per year.

Currently, the New Bremen mayor earns $5,500, the Minster mayor earns $7,000, the New Knoxville mayor earns $5,500 and the Coldwater mayor earns $6,000.

New Bremen Village Councilor John Schwartz said he did not want to increase the rates too much.

“I don’t have an issue with the rates going up,” he said. “I don’t want to make it so we’re in it for the money — obviously, we’re not. I think something should go up, but I don’t think it should be that much ... We’re volunteering because we want to do this, not because of the pay. I want to do this. I’d do it for nothing. I did it for nothing for eight years before I lived here, so I don’t have an issue. I’d do it if I didn’t get paid anything.”

Councilors discussed the options of having simply a base pay or getting paid an amount for each meeting attended. Councilor Dennis Burnell noted councilors have been responsible but there could been problems in the future.

“We’ve never had a problem with councilors missing the meetings other than being excused, but who knows what’s down the road,” he said. “I would prefer that we get so much per meeting.”

Councilors approved the second reading of an ordinance authorizing change in compensation to $400 base pay and $100 per meeting for a total of $2,700 per year for councilors and an increase from $5,500 to $6,500 for the mayor. The increase is the first in 16 years, and the change in pay will not take effect until re-election. Burnell voted against the measure.

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