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Star City finalizes 2022 budget preparations, discusses council’s pay

The Town of Star City’s Finance Committee held a virtual meeting to wrap up its budget preparations and discussed the idea of future pay raises for council members on Tuesday evening.

Star City Treasurer Lea Hassler led the conversation regarding the municipality’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year.

Hassler was joined during the Zoom session by members of the Star City council and Mayor Herman Reid.

Hassler presented final alterations to the budget to those in attendance, beginning with a revision regarding property taxes following a letter from the state auditor’s office.

“I entered 4% for delinquencies, and they suggested five. So, I changed it to five, and it reduced the amount that we should get in revenue,” Hassler said.

Other changes to the 2022 budget included an increase in revenue from sign permits, an increased budget amounts toward the central garage and the garbage department, a decreased amount allotted to city council meetings due to the reduction of per-meeting fees, and the addition of previously forgotten coal severance tax funding that was put toward the streets and highways budget.

Hassler said the town was not able to designate a set amount of money for street paving in the new budget.

“We’re just planning that we’re not going to do paving and that difference in the paving line item will then flow over to the new year,” Hassler said.

Reid said that he would like to address Star City council members’ pay in the coming months.

“Westover, Granville – everybody gets double what we get here,” Reid said.

Reid said Star City council members work hard, especially concerning the Star City farmers market, and he believes the town recorder is currently being paid too much – though he clarified that this statement was not intended to be an attack on Record Steve Blinco or his position.

“They don’t really handle what the ordinance book says…and it’s nothing against Steve [Blinco]. I want to revisit that, what salary the council makes, and basically take some from the recorder, add it to the [council]. But I haven’t sat down and done the paperwork,” Reid said.

Blinco said that since city council is now only meeting once a month, indicating a decrease in pay, the work council members do on committees should be considered.

“I think we really need to look at assigned roles for everybody on council, because a lot of these committees are not meeting that regularly,” Blinco said.  

Other members of the council said that, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, city council and separate committees were meeting more frequently. Blinco disagreed with the latter statement regarding committees.

“I think there’s sometimes we should at least meet and look at some ideas on things. There’s some committees up there that never met in any way shape, or form, so it’s like – why even have a committee if we’re never going to meet?” Blinco said.

Reid said nothing has been thoroughly discussed or proposed to council regarding potential pay changes yet.