Government, News

Star City Council votes unanimously to cut pay in half

STAR CITY — Town council voted unanimously to cut the pay of all councilors and the city recorder in half to address pressing needs in the community.

Councilmember Emma Luzader said she thought the money saved by cutting the stipend given to members in half would do a lot of good for the town.

“I am suggesting [this] because of all the work that needs done in this town,” she said. “The roads, they are so bad, and of course, we always want to continue to be able to pay 100 percent of our health insurance to our staff and give them the holidays. My suggestion is to cut it in half.
The current pay per meeting is $80 for each council member. This amount will decrease to $40 per meeting, effective July 1, 2019.

“Forty dollars a meeting — most of the time you are out of here in an hour. Most of us don’t have far to come to a meeting. It’s not about that. You are here as a public servant. We aren’t here to make money. We are here because we love the town and the people here and want nothing but the best for it.”

Luzader said she wanted to bring up the pay cuts before the filing period for city council candidates began, so those wanting to run knew exactly how much they would be compensated.

Council member Cindy Ulrich agreed, but said she thought the savings should not be a question of whether workers are paid health care or vacations and holidays. She said she believed the money should go toward city issues.

Luzader said she thought the recorder position’s pay, currently occupied by Bob Williams, should also be cut from $8,000 a year to $4,000, also effective July 1.

City attorney Paul Cranston said the city recorder duties traditionally included much more than in the last few years, and rather than changing the duties in the city charter or updating the ordinance, which would be
complicated and involve many changes, the pay should be updated to reflect the current duties.

“Rather than get into the charter change, you can still change the pay,” he said. “Knowing what is actually happening, if you think the pay needs changed for what is occurring, you change the pay. Then, we will deal with the other stuff as best we can.”
In other business:
Luzader and Dominick Claudio reported on their meeting with Monongalia County Commission about the potential Boyers Avenue property sale. They asked the commission about specific tax increment financing regulations for the property and were told they needed to place the item on the agenda for consideration of the sale of the property and gather questions for the TIF lawyer. The discussion was tabled until the next council meeting.
Mayor Herman Reid said information for what kind of zoning the first block of Mansfield and Congress fell under is expected at the next meeting.
Cranston said he was still working on the lease agreement with Mountaineer Towing to store vehicles on city property. Luzader said she spoke with the Department of Environmental Protection, and possible environmental hazards, such as fluid leakage from vehicles, need to be taken into account.
Public works director Phillip Davis said Clearfiber subcontractors were drilling too close to city ditch lines and causing water to run into yards and other areas. He said he would speak with Clearfiber about it.
Police Chief Thomas Varndell said officers answered 579 service calls in November, with 158 traffic stops. He asked council to consider investing in new report writing software to save time and allow information sharing across municipalities.
Council member Todd Gregg said he wanted council to start thinking of ways to use the new improvements at the park for the community. He suggested a farmer’s market, kids’ days, concerts, fishing tournaments and other events. Claudio suggested renting out spaces for small businesses such as an ice cream vendor for the summer.