Currently, Seymour’s mayor receives a salary of $600 per month.
Under an ordinance set for debate and a vote when the Seymour Board of Aldermen next meet Thursday, Oct. 14, that rate of pay would drop to $100 per meeting, effective with the mayor’s next term of office, which begins in April 2022.
“I think it’s appropriate,” said South Ward Alderman Dan Wehmer, the city’s acting mayor after last month’s resignation of Mayor Richard Vinson, who moved outside the city limits with roughly seven months remaining on his two-year term of office.
“It’s nothing against Richard, nothing against the office of the mayor or its significance.
“It’s just as simple as eliminating wasted money. Under the model of our city, which is where an administrator runs the city, there’s no point in paying a mayor for duties that, quite frankly, don’t exist. Many years ago, when the $600-per-month salary was created, it was done because Jimmy Crisp was Seymour’s mayor, and he also served as the city administrator.”
The decision to author an ordinance to set the mayor’s salary at $100 per meeting came after 30 minutes of debate at last Thursday’s regular meeting of the city’s aldermen, discussion that began when City Administrator Hillary Gintz noted in her report that North Ward Alderman Jim Ashley felt the issue should be discussed as the subject previously had been debated.
Ashley wasn’t present at the meeting.
“I know that Jim wanted to be here, but he’s very sick,” Gintz said. “I also know that he planned to bring this up tonight in his report. With him not being here because he’s sick, he still wanted to know your thoughts.”
“Thoughts about what?” South Ward Alderman Nadine Crisp asked.
“I guess thoughts about the rate of pay for the aldermen and the mayor,” Gintz responded.
“Well, I don’t think the aldermen need any more money,” Crisp said. “The school board doesn’t get paid. There are a lot of elected positions where people don’t make anything or make very little.”
Wehmer said he agreed with Crisp’s logic.
“The city sure doesn’t need to spend any more money on paying elected officials than we’re now paying,” he said.
“And since we’re on this, I’ll just give my opinion that I feel the mayor’s pay needs to be seriously reduced. No other city around here pays a mayor what we pay. Cities that have city administrators, like ours, sure don’t need to be paying a mayor for duties that don’t exist.”
North Ward Alderman Darrel “Bub” Wallace said he wasn’t aware the subject needed to be discussed.
“I’m not serving for the money,” he said. “I really don’t care what an alderman or a mayor is paid, but it doesn’t need to be any more than what’s now being paid.”
“Well, I think it needs to be less for the mayor,” Wehmer said. “I’ve felt that for a very long time, ever since our city moved on from having its mayor also serve as the administrator, and that ended about 15 years ago when Jerry Miller quit being our mayor.”
Crisp asked Wehmer how much he felt the mayor should be paid.
“The same as an alderman,” he responded.
“I think it needs to be more than that ... not a lot more, but a little more,” Crisp said. “I agree that the $600 we now pay is too much, but what about cutting it in half?”
“Nadine, we often don’t agree on things, but I think we’re on the same boat on this,” Wehmer said, smiling. “Cutting it in half is $300 a month, and I think that’s too much.”
Vinson was one of two people in the audience.
“Richard, I sure don’t want you to think I’m knocking you or the job that you did as mayor, because I felt you were a good mayor,” Wehmer continued. “But if there’s a time to go and change this, now’s the time to do it. We don’t have a mayor, and the filing for the next election in April starts in early December. If we’re going to make a change, anyone who files for mayor knows what the pay will be.”
Wehmer asked Crisp if she felt $100 per meeting sounded fair.
“I do,” she said.
“But I also want to make it clear that even though we are dropping the mayor’s pay, that doesn’t mean that we need to be raising the pay for the aldermen.”
Both Wallace and Wehmer said they agreed.
“So, we’re looking in the next terms that the mayor will earn $100 per meeting, while the pay for aldermen stays at $75 per meeting, right?” Wehmer asked.
“Sounds good to me,” Wallace said.
“Yes, I like that,” Crisp said.
Wehmer asked City Clerk Leslie Houk if the board needed to vote on the issue.
Houk explained that for the aldermen to change mayoral pay as discussed, the city’s ordinance amending the elected officials compensation needed to be approved.
The aldermen unanimously voted 3-0 to place the amended ordinance on the agenda for the next meeting of the Seymour Board of Aldermen on Oct. 14.
If approved at that meeting, the changes become effective with the mayor’s two-year term of offi ce beginning April 14, 2022. The cost savings to the city will be $400 per month.