Canal Winchester's mayor could receive a bigger paycheck in each of the next two years, effectively bumping the position's salary to more than $100,000.
City Council will consider a 2.5% raise in 2020 and 2021 for the city's top administrator, a position currently held by Mayor Mike Ebert, whose third four-year term expires Dec. 31, 2019. He has said he intends to run for reelection in November.
Every two years, council must vote on legislation by July 1, setting the salaries and benefits for the mayor and the city's seven elected council members. Changes then would take effect the following year after council election is held.
"It's awkward and uncomfortable, but it's something we're charged with doing," Council President Bruce Jarvis said during council's May 20 meeting, when members did not consider a raise for themselves.
Jarvis, who expects to challenge Ebert in November, also said he could not support a pay increase for the mayor.
"I feel like we're kind of where we need to be on both sides," Jarvis said. "The way I'm approaching this is a nameless, faceless staffing slot based on the limited info we have."
City finance director Amanda Jackson provided council with a 2018 Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission study comparing salary information from various central Ohio municipalities.
The MORPC salary report includes the following average annual salaries for cities with no city manager or city administrator, like Canal Winchester:
* Columbus: $186,721 for mayor; $57,740 for council members.
* Gahanna: $103,809 for mayor; $9,600 for council members.
* Lancaster: $94,331 for mayor; $9,400 for council members.
* Whitehall: $82,500 for mayor; $6,000 for council members.
Ebert received a bigger paycheck for 2018 and 2019 after council approved a pay increase of 6.5% to $95,983 annually. According to information from the city, the mayor's benefits package also includes $500 per month in compensation for the use of his personal vehicle in conducting city business.
Ebert's annual salary was set at $90,125 through the end of 2017. It was $87,500 in 2014 and 2015.
Council members' salaries remained at $6,592 annually for 2018-19. The council president is paid $7,251 and the council vice president $6,921. They last received a raise in 2016 of 3%.
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.
"Employees need a good leader," councilman Mike Coolman said. "I'm happy to give (the mayor) a raise. ... The end result is the community we live in and what we hear verbally from our visitors. That's a reflection on his abilities."
Council Vice President Mike Walker also said he supports an increase for the mayor after pointing out that "cost-of-living adjustments are aimed at ensuring (salaries and benefits) keep up with inflation."
Social Security recipients received a 2.8% increase in January.
Councilman Pat Lynch went beyond the MORPC report and looked at mayors' salaries when comparing them to population size.
Canal Winchester's more than 8,000 residents would equate to a per-resident rate of $13.50, Lynch said, compared to Findlay ($1.82) and Cuyahoga Falls ($2.62).
"I think the city has been run extremely well, but the data that I have is what's in front of me," he said.
"In comparison to every other city, at least, there is no one that comes even remotely close to what we're offering here. I think we're very generous."
Councilwoman Jill Amos agreed.
"I think we're very generous with our salary," she said. "I think the mayor does a fabulous job, but when looking at the numbers, it's a considerable salary and a nice-looking package."
Currently, two city administrators are paid more than the mayor.
Public-services director Matt Peoples makes $103,272, and construction-services administrator Bill Sims is paid $99,840, according to Jackson.