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Aberdeen votes for raises for next mayor, city council

Aberdeen's mayor and city council voted Monday night, with the exception of Councilwoman Ruth Elliott, to increase the salaries of those who serve as mayor and city council beginning after the next election in November 2015.

But the raises were not as much as some of them had wanted.

Beginning with those who will be elected in a little more than 20 months, Aberdeen's mayor will be paid $15,000 annually, a raise from $10,000, and city council members will be paid $10,000 annually, an increase from $7,500.

The proposal to increase the salaries of Aberdeen's elected officials has been contentious for the better part of a year.

"I hope this will satisfy both sides," Councilman Bruce Garner said after his amendment to decrease the amount of the raises was passed by a 4-1 vote.

He said the increase, from his $7,500 salary, combined with hypothetically restoring the $1,200 annually in expense money the elected officials no longer receive, will amount to $108.33 per month more.

"Now if someone wants to take this to referendum, God bless them," Garner said. "Keep in mind, it will cost the city $15,000 to $20,000 for a special election."

The ordinance introduced at last month's city council meeting called for the mayor's salary to increase from $10,000 annually to $17,000 and a council member's salary to increase from $7,500 annually to $12,000, with both raises taking effect following the next city election in November 2015.

Garner made the motion to limit the new salaries to $15,000 for the mayor and $10,000 for council members.

Elliott was the only vote against the increases and she did so without comment. After Elliott started the roll call vote with a "no," council members Sandy Landbeck followed by Ruth Ann Young and then Garner and, lastly, Mayor Mike Bennett all voted "aye."

"I truly feel the original ordinance is correct as written," Landbeck said. "I think approving it would be contentious. I am doing this in the interest in the people."

Voting for the smaller increases, Landbeck made it clear she was hoping this would settle the matter and the city could avoid further dissent, including it being petitioned to referendum.

"This is sensible, it's reasonable and it's justified," she said.

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