Two city employee union leaders see nothing wrong with the City Council’s decision to grant a 38 percent raise to the mayor in the 2013 budget while proposing only cost-of-living raises next year for bargaining unit members.
The council last week boosted the mayor’s part-time salary by $5,000 per year, to $18,300, for 2013, when it adopted the city’s $11 million budget.
The decision was solely the council’s, as Mayor Sarah Slingerland had not asked for the raise in her tentative budget.
Ward 3 Councilwoman Helen Martin said the raise was a “recognition to the responsibilities that the mayoral position entails” and not a raise per se for Slingerland. The mayoral salary has been fixed at $13,300 for years.
“It has been a lengthy, lengthy time since the last increase,” she said.
Eric Johnson, president of the Johnstown Police Benevolent Association, the union representing rank and file officers in the Johnstown Police Department, said he has no problem with the raise for Slingerland.
“She does a great job. I think a lot of her, and I think she is excellent for the city,” he said. “It is a part-time job, and she puts in a lot of time. She shows a lot of interest in our department, and she is supportive.”
Johnson’s PBA is negotiating with the city over a contract that expired in 2009. In its 2013 budget, the city set aside $99,000 for “all other” costs. City Treasurer Michael Gifford said the $99,000 represents raises of 2 percent to employees who are not members of bargaining units and also the projected raises for staff in bargaining units.
The city’s contract with the CSEA expires in 2013 and its contract with the firefighters union expires at the end of this year.
Charles Barley, labor relations specialist with CSEA Local 818, which represents unionized employees in the city Department of Public Works, said his members were concerned but not overly upset with the raise granted to the mayor.
“They were more concerned about the money coming out of the culvert budget. The city of Johnstown is well-managed financially,” he said.
Slingerland said she has resisted efforts by the City Council to increase the mayoral position’s salary. She was elected the city’s first female mayor in 2005.
“There has been a lot of discussion of this. It had little to do with me personally and more to do with the position being underfunded,” she said.
Slingerland said she puts more than 20 hours per week into the position and often takes calls or answers questions from residents at all hours of the day and night.
“I’m here a lot,” she said.
She added she does not use a city car, except for official business, and does not use a city-provided cellphone, nor does she accept health insurance provided by the city.
Martin said City Council members discussed increasing the mayor’s salary at a budget workshop they conducted a week before adopting the spending plan. Slingerland said the increase was an amendment to the budget listed on the agenda at the budget adoption meeting.
Martin said she has heard no negative feedback on the council’s decision to raise the mayor’s salary.
“I do not think anyone is opposed. I believe everybody is on board with this position,” she said.
She added the council is not considering further raises for the mayor.
Gifford said the council took $5,000 from a budget line in the Department of Public Works budget for materials to repair and construct storm sewers. The city initially budgeted $27,000 for materials; the adjusted expenditure line is $22,000 in the 2013 budget.
“It is an annual cost. If something pops up and we need more, we will figure out how much to put into that line,” he said.