Heath's finance committee is sending council legislation that would increase salaries for the city's mayor-elect in 2010 and the auditor-elect in 2012.

Heath's finance committee is sending council legislation that would increase salaries for the city's mayor-elect in 2010 and the auditor-elect in 2012.

"These positions are well-below the average," Heath City Council President Jeff Crabill said. "We polled numerous central Ohio cities; I think we looked at 40 other cities and villages. Even with this (raise), they'll still be below average."

Council attempted to pass similar legislation in October 2006, but then-Mayor Dan Dupps vetoed it.

The legislation proposed by Ron Krueger, chairman of council's finance committee, would increase the mayor's salary from $46,000 to $56,000 and the auditor's salary from $42,500 to $51,000.

Those raises would benefit the current mayor and auditor. Raises would not take effect until after the next election for both seats.

"We can't give ourselves raises," Crabill said.

He said the legislation again might have enough council support, but council member James Watercutter isn't on board.

"I do not support it," Watercutter said. "The main reason is because of the current economic problems. We're trying to get a budget passed."

Watercutter said both positions probably deserve the raise, but he said he doesn't think the city should approve a raise, for financial reasons.

Crabill agreed that challenging economic times are coming, but "they are way below the average or median income for a community our size and even smaller for an administrator and a CFO (chief financial officer)."

"We've gotta' find it in our budget," he said.

Heath Mayor Richard Waugh said he would not veto any legislation to give the next mayor a raise. Waugh already has announced his bid for the seat in 2009.

"It's about the position and level of responsibility," Waugh said. "I think it will bring more competition for the seat."

Waugh said a public servant doesn't decide to run for election to earn money, but the city should try to attract the best candidates and a fair salary helps encourage more people to run for office.

Watercutter agreed that public service is not about money.

"You don't run for the money; you run to serve," he said.

City auditor Keith Alexander, who has not said whether he will run for re-election in 2011, said the mayor and auditor are managing a $14-million budget with union employees and a "multitude of different challenges." He said the two positions earn less than the average salary of a city employee.

"Public service should not be about the money. But if you're full time, it has to be a little bit about the money," he said.

Waugh sold his insurance business after being appointed as mayor in 2007.

Both men work full time for the city. Waugh estimated that his job takes about 60 to 65 hours a week.

Heath City Council is expected to discuss the potential increases in December.

The mayor's salary hasn't changed in eight years, and the auditor's salary has remained unchanged for the past 12 years.

lwince@thisweeknews.com