City Council debates pay raises for elected officials

By Andrew Carter -

GALION — Galion City Council is debating a proposal to increase the salaries of City of Galion elected officials. The first reading of the ordinance was conducted during Tuesday’s council meeting.

Ordinance No. 2021-66 would amend the salary amounts for mayor, auditor, treasurer, law director, and president of council, each of which is an elected position. It would also amend fringe benefits amounts for mayor, auditor, and law director.

Following are the current salaries for each position:

• Mayor — $30,000

• Auditor — $39,902

• Treasurer — $6,500

• Law Director — $45,000

• President of Council — $5,040

The current levels were established by ordinance in 2013.

Under terms of Ordinance No. 2021-66, the revised salaries would be as follows:

• Mayor — $55,000

• Auditor — $44,000

• Treasurer — $7,000

• Law Director — $50,000

• President of Council — $6,000

Council members seemed to be somewhat split in regards to their opinions about the ordinance.

Michael Richart, 3rd Ward Council Member, expressed concerns that the full council has not had the chance to discuss the issue and that Galion citizens have not had an opportunity to provide feedback to council about the proposal. He was opposed to placing it on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.

Thomas G. Fellner, At-Large Council Member, said he believes the pay increases are necessary.

“I believe the positions need a more realistic raise than where they were set back in 2013, eight years ago,” said Fellner. “I just think this is a step in the right direction.”

Mark Triplett, At-Large Council Member, expressed concerns about the increases.

“I just don’t understand how this is going to be sustainable,” Triplett said to Fellner. “That’s quite a raise along with health benefits, with all the other employees. And people know when they run for office it’s a thankless job. So I don’t know why you’re trying to raise the pay.”

Fellner noted that the rationale behind raising the salaries for the five elected offices — pointing specifically to the mayor and law director positions — is to possibly attract younger professionals to seek those offices in future elections.

“I believe they should be able to sustain a family on the salary,” Fellner said.“These aren’t raises each year for eternity. It’s setting them. I doubt we’ll look at them for another eight years again.”

Tammy Siclair-Erlsten, 4th Ward Council Member, stated that she would like to have more discussions about the proposal, especially about how the figures for salaries were determined.

“I would not pass this the way it is right now,” she said.“While I do agree with a lot of the points that have been made tonight on both sides, I have to say I just wish we could’ve had a little more discussion on where and how these numbers came about.”

Aaron Ivy, 2nd Ward Council Member, said he believes the current salary structure, especially for the mayor’s office, discourages people from seeking public office in Galion. He noted that the current pay level for the mayor’s position does not provide “a full-time living wage” for the person in that role.

Fellner said conducting all three readings for the ordinance will allow council to voice concerns and work out any unresolved details before a final vote is taken.

Law Director Thomas Palmer said since council did not vote to pass Ordinance No. 2021-66 on Tuesday the current salary schedule for elected officials will not be affected for the next four years.

The second reading of the ordinance will be conducted during the next council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 10. Council will meet at 7 p.m. at the Galion Municipal Building.

City Council declined to consider Ordinance No. 2021-67. That legislation would have increased the salaries for members of City Council from the current annual rate of $4,200 to $5,100. A motion to add the ordinance to the agenda for consideration during Tuesday’s meeting failed for lack of a second.

By Andrew Carter

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