Canal Winchester City Council agreed to give Mayor Michael Ebert a bigger paycheck beginning in 2018, but not before Councilwoman Bobbie Mershon raised questions about whether it was a good move.

She and Councilman Bruce Jarvis both cast dissenting votes in the 5-2 decision June 19.

Mershon cited a recent salary survey by the Ohio Municipal League as the basis of her decision to vote no.

"We were 60th in the number of personnel under the mayor with only 35 employees," she said. "We were 56th in size, with the city being a little over 7,000, but we were 17th in the salary of the mayor in the list of the survey. That's quite a big difference from what other communities are."

Jarvis said he voted no because when he reviewed the salary surveys, he thought the mayor and council salaries were "right where they ought to be."

The mayor's salary will increase by 6.5 percent to $95,983 annually beginning Jan. 1, 2018, running through Dec. 31, 2019.

The benefits package includes $500 per month in compensation for the use of the mayor's personal vehicle in conducting city business.

Ebert's annual salary was set at $90,125 through the end of this year. It was $85,000 in 2014.

Legislation setting the salaries and benefits for the mayor and the city's seven elected council members must be made by July 1, according to city code.

According to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission's 2016 annual survey of salaries and fringe benefits, Canal Winchester's mayor is paid more than the average $85,262 annually for central Ohio communities that have a mayor with no city manager or administrator.

Bexley's mayor earns $107,702 annually.

City Finance Director Amanda Jackson has said it's difficult to compare Canal Winchester with other cities, considering the responsibilities of the mayor and council and the city's overall budget.

Council has the option of reviewing and voting on salary and benefits changes every two years. They take effect the following year, after elections for the mayor and city council.

Council members' salaries will remain at $6,592 annually. The council president will continue to be paid $7,251 and the council vice president will be paid $6,921.

The mayor and council members also may choose to opt out of the city's medical, dental, vision and life insurance plans for an incentive. All city employees have this option.

Two residents expressed support for Ebert during the June 19 meeting.

"I think a working mayor who's committed 100 percent is hard to find these days," said Mike Coolman with The Insurance Circle Agency. "It takes personality, compatibility and communication skills. The man has it. ... The mayor has hired a quality team ... His door has always been open and available 24/7."

Bob Wood, who helped lead efforts to keep the National Barber Museum and Hall of Fame in Canal Winchester, noted Ebert's enthusiasm and concern about keeping the museum in the city.

"If it wasn't for the mayor's leadership and city council and others, it might not be here," Wood said.

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