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Aberdeen mayor, council salaries could go up significantly

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The salary for any future mayors of Aberdeen would be more than doubled and the salary for city council members nearly doubled, if a bill introduced by the city council Monday night is approved.

The mayor would get a salary of $24,000 instead of the current $10,000 and council members would get paid $12,000 instead of $7,500.

The salaries would go into effect in November 2015, following the next city election, and would not apply to the current mayor or council members.

City Manager Doug Miller said the raises are necessary because the city's elected officials have not had a salary increase in 10 years and the wages have definitely not kept up with the cost of inflation.

Also, he said: "We are far more complex than we used to be, we're bigger than we used to be."

The mayor of Havre de Grace, by comparison, earns $7,800 annually and city council members get $5,200. In Bel Air, members of the Board of Town Commissioners are paid $4,800 annually, with the board chairman – who holds the ceremonial title of mayor – receiving $6,000 annually.

The next council meeting will be on May 20.

Ethics change, security cameras, sign code

The council also introduced bills that would amend the city's ethics ordinance to update lobbying registration information, update the city's sign code ordinance and repeal the requirement of security cameras in commercial and industrial developments.

"Six or seven years ago, there was an initiative to build a monitoring room of TV cameras, to have it fully staffed 24/7 and every community in the city would have a TV camera as part of it," Miller told the council.

"On our end, we never fully built that out, we never staffed it, so therefore, we feel it's unfair to require someone to put in a camera system if we're not going to have someone here on the receiving end in the police station monitoring it," he said.

Miller noted the bill has nothing to do with a recent plan to install more police cameras around the city.

"We are not giving up on our own city-owned city operated camera system. In fact, we wish to expand and enhance that," he said. "But we feel it's not fair to tell a developer, 'You must install a security system,' if we're not ready to receive it."

Mayor Mike Bennett agreed, adding it would take "considerable" money for the city to monitor the cameras and staff it around the clock.

Recycling stickers

With only three entries to the public works department's recycling sticker contest, Bennett announced that all three stickers will be printed out and made available for residents to use on their recycling bins.

The three residents who entered the contest received a $25, $50 and $75 gift certificate to Walmart.

"We're using all three designs. We're printing out a number of each one and then people will pick out which one they want to pick up," Bennett said. "We thank all three contestants for entering and we're very excited you did, and this will help us get moving forward with that [program] just a little bit."

Budget

Miller said he had hoped to introduce the budget Monday but it "has been difficult to balance."

The budget will be introduced May 6 and the public meeting to review it would be May 20. A special evening meeting will also be called on June 3, which will be the first opportunity to vote on the budget, he said.

The city has until June 10 to adopt the budget.

"Because our assessable base has actually gone down, we will not be required to have a constant yield hearing as well," Miller said. A constant yield rate is inversely tied to property assessments; when the assessments go up, the constant yield rate declines and vice-versa.

Also at the meeting, Councilman Bruce Garner congratulated the Aberdeen High School girls' varsity basketball team for winning its second straight state championship.

"They reached out with everything they had to play those games and to win them," he said.

Bennett said the city's Earth Day celebration held the previous Saturday was "really, really packed" this year, with "probably one of the best turnouts we had in a while."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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