With a second round of concession talks with city unions slated for Friday, Mayor Art Ward said tonight he would push for pay cuts for the mayor and city councilors “to demonstrate that we’re in this together.”
Ward said the city’s top elected officials should accept a 5 percent pay cut for the coming two years.
That would slice the mayor’s salary by $5,000 annually and snatch $500 a year from each of the six city councilors.
It’s move the mayor opposed less than two months ago, when he fought to freeze pay rather than slice salaries by 3 percent as city Councilor Cliff Block proposed.
“I guess I did have a great idea,” Block said Thursday, adding that he appreciated Ward’s change in position since the mayor would take the biggest hit of any official.
The mayor, who made the announcement during a speech at Nuchies declaring his candidacy for a second term, said he would be “sitting down” with municipal unions Friday morning.
They will be “talking about the potential for givebacks,” Ward said, that could help him close a $1.8 million budget gap that might otherwise require layoffs to close.
That the unions are willing to negotiate, Ward said, “speaks well for our opportunities” to reach an agreement that would help taxpayers.
Still, he said, “I don’t know what will come of that” session with union leaders.
Ward said he is determined to do whatever he can to freeze property taxes this year, a move that “is not going to be easy by any stretch of the imagination.”
Ward, a Democrat, blocked the effort to cut elected officials’ pay when he joined city Councilors Frank Nicastro and Mike Rimcoski in pushing instead for a pay freeze.
Block and two other city councilors, Ken Cockayne and Kevin McCauley, favored the 3 percent cut.
The council couldn’t reach a decision in March because one of its members, Craig Minor, was absent, leaving the others deadlocked at 3-3.
It doesn’t appear there will be opposition to the 5 percent cut now that Ward is on board with it.
Under the law, the mayor and council cannot set their own salaries. They have no power to reduce their pay immediately because it was set by those in power in 2007.
The proposal pushed by the mayor would reduce pay for those elected this coming November.
Current pay for city leaders
Mayor - $102,025
City councilors - $10,156
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Contact Steve Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org