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The measure passed by so small a margin that the council will have to vote on it again.
Monday, June 3, 2013
The Roanoke City Council voted itself a hefty 28.5 percent pay increase, but by a narrow enough margin to force a second vote later this month to confirm its move.
The 4-3 vote Monday also gave the city's mayor, who serves on the council and who voted for the increase, a 15 percent salary boost.
The vote, if confirmed, would increase council members's pay from $15,560 to $20,000, beginning next year after the next city election. It boosts the mayor's pay from $20,000 to $23,000.
"We did the right thing," said Councilman Bill Bestpitch, who proposed the increase last month. "Too often, councils haven't always."
He said council members are underpaid, given their responsibilities and the time they devote.
Bestpitch, who mentioned earlier in Monday's council session that he had retired from working, said he did not view the move as a pay increase but as "a significant salary adjustment," to make up for several years of no increases.
He has noted that council members earn less than the maximums set by the state legislature in 1996.
Council members voted on his proposal without any discussion.
Only three members of the public spoke, two of them Roanoke County residents, and one a regular speaker at council meeting who had earlier repeated his frequent complaint about unfair treatment as a city employee several years ago. Four people spoke against the increase at a public hearing last month.
Council members sat on their hands when council member David Trinkle suggested a smaller, 10 percent raise. No member moved that Trinkle's proposal be considered, and none responded when Trinkle argued for the smaller increase.
Trinkle said the 10 percent increase would roughly match a series of adjustments council had made for employees to cover increased costs for retirement benefits, as well as a 2 percent pay increase that takes effect in July.
"I'm not opposed to a pay increase, but I think it should be incremental," Trinkle said.
Vice Mayor Court Rosen said after the vote that he felt it was wrong for the council to have considered its pay increase separately from the rest of the city's staff.
"We need to lead by example," he said.
Joining Bestpitch in supporting the increases were Mayor David Bowers and council members Sherman Lea and Anita Price. Rosen, Trinkle and Councilman Ray Ferris voted against the proposal.
The council cut its pay by 5 percent in 2009, but reversed that cut last year.
The 4-3 vote means that the matter must be voted on a second time. The council had postponed an earlier scheduled vote because Bestpitch was out of town at its May 20 meeting, and backers of the increase feared a confirming second vote on that date would fail.
The city's elected officials are paid less than those in Portsmouth, which is slightly smaller than Roanoke.
Roanoke County pays its supervisors more, while the board chairman is paid slightly less than the city's mayor, according to a survey conducted by the city's budget office.
In other action:
Staff writer Annie McCallum contributed to this report
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