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Westover council debates amending mayor’s starting pay to $30K

The city of Westover’s council debated amending the salary of the mayor Monday evening.

The ordinance laid out that the first term would garner the wage of $30,000, increasing $5,000 every term until it caps at $60,000 during the seventh term.

The change would be effective for the term of office starting July 1, 2020. Councilor Ralph Mullins brought up several concerns he had.

“The format in which this is constructed, I cannot agree with, and there’s reasons for that, many of them,” he said.

As an example, he said, if Westover’s current mayor Dave Johnson suddenly needed replaced, the city would need to elect a new mayor. He said then the city would advertise the salary of mayor as $30,000. By city ordinance, the mayor cannot hold any other full-time employment.

“We’re not voting on to give the mayor a raise here,” Mullins said. “We’re voting to give the mayor a raise, if you’re reelected. If you’re not reelected, we’re voting to decrease the current salary of the mayor, and that I cannot agree with.”

Mullins said he does not believe decreasing the starting salary is in Westover’s best interest. Councilor Steve Andryzcik agreed.

“I did some research, and there’s not one position of mayor in the state of West Virginia that has a scale such as this,” Mullins said.

Mullins said the scale doesn’t give incentive for someone other than the standing mayor to run for the office.

Councilor Janice Goodwin also agreed with Mullins and Andryzcik. She said she did not like the sliding scale. She believed the mayor should have a set salary.
Mullins asked who proposed the ordinance, and Johnson said that it was councilor Edie Viola.

Viola said she did not see a problem with how the proposed rule was written. She added that people should run for mayor if they are interested in the city, regardless of what the salary is.

The mayor has not received a raise since 2016. Johnson told council that something has to be passed before the end of the year. City Attorney Tim Stranko reminded council that it can be amended at the second reading but must pass the first. It will also need to go through three readings to pass.

Mullins also pulled statistics that said that West Virginia is 18th in the country for mayoral salaries. The average median salary is $49,659.

Upon voting, Andryzcik, Johnson, Viola and Gary Weber voted yes. Goodwin and Mullins abstained. Al Yocum was absent.

In other business, council also discussed a raise for councilors to $100 for each meeting they attend in their positions. This would also be effective July 2020. Viola said she did not think councilors needed a raise, and thinks that money can be allocated other places.

Upon voting, Andryzcik, Mullins and Goodwin abstained, Viola voted no, Weber and Johnson voted yes. The proposal died.

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