Committee OKs salary raises for council

ALPENA — Alpena Municipal Council members will be getting an increase in their salaries in each of the next two years.

During Tuesday’s council meeting, council voted to accept the recommendation from the Alpena Municipal Council Compensation Committee that will bump the current salaries up $500 this year and the same amount in 2019. The increase means Mayor Matt Waligora will earn $7,500 this year and $8,000 in 2019. The balance of council will make $5,500 in 2018 and $6,000 next year.

Committee interim Chairman Dennis Schultz said the committee combed through city data and attendance records and determined a raise was in order. He said several years ago the committee decided that instead of paying per diem for each meeting, it would increase the salaries in hopes that elected officials would attend them as often as they are able. The only meeting council gets paid for is the mandatory board of review meeting.

Schultz said paying council a salary instead of on a per meeting basis also could save voters money over time. He said it is important for council to attend meetings, but there were some instances where it may have been a little over done.

“What we were seeing were there were some who were going everywhere and to everything and it was resulting in the amounts being more than the salary,” Schultz said. “That became a little concerning to us. So far this has worked well.”

Schultz said the $500 a year salary increase was chosen because some council members take from their own pockets to pay for things. He said as prices and costs increase, the compensation should as well. Schultz said as Alpena grows and council remains engaged in its progress, it is important members be paid fairly to ensure the positive growth and their engagement continues.

“We look at it as an investment and step toward the future,” he said.

As far as the overall council, Schultz said engagement and attendance has been solid and he expects that to continue to be the case moving forward.

“It is our observation that as a whole it is very good in terms of the participation,” Schultz said. “There always seems to be a little slip when a term is about to end, but for a whole term it is excellent.”

As the salary council members increases, it could lure more people to run for seats in the future. Schultz said that is a positive, but warned that doing so only for the money could be very counter-productive to the city.

“We definitely don’t want anyone to run strictly for the compensation,” he said. “We want them to do it for their love and passion for Alpena and to try to make it better and not for the wage.”

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.